ASSURANCE FOR CONSUMERS AND A GATEWAY TO NEW MARKETS
Consumers are increasingly concerned with choosing products that are responsibly sourced and made. FSC chain of custody certification allows companies to use the FSC label, giving consumers assurance about the origin of the products they buy.
If you’re a business hoping to enter markets that are particularly environmentally and socially aware, chain of custody certification is an essential credential. Achieving certification is also a great way to demonstrate compliance with public and private sector procurement policies – Green Building Council and Living Building Challenge – that specify environmentally responsible materials.
TYPES OF CHAIN OF CUSTODY CERTIFICATION
There are two types of certification to choose from, depending on the scale and type of your operation:
- For organizations processing or selling forest products: certification of single businesses or facilities, or of multiple sites under multi-site or group certification (this could be for large companies that operate multiple sites, or smaller enterprises that choose to group together to achieve collective certification).
- For projects: one-off certification issued to individual objects or buildings that are totally or partially made using FSC-certified components.
Alternative routes to certifying forest products
Depending on the levels of FSC-certified wood in your products, and the scope of your certificate, you may need to combine your chain of custody standard with additional standards – essentially, extra requirements you’ll need to meet.
FSC Mix products and Controlled wood
The FSC 100% label signifies that a product is made entirely from FSC-certified forest material.
The FSC Mix label lets people know that certified wood has been supplemented with non-certified materials. However, this non-certified material needs to adhere to a certain standard: either the reclaimed wood standard or the controlled wood standard.
By meeting this standard, a forest management company achieves controlled wood certification. This means that the material sourced has not been harvested illegally, in violation of traditional or civil rights, or in a way that threatens high conservation value (HCV) areas. Controlled wood must also not be taken from forests being converted to plantation or non-forest use, or from forests containing genetically modified trees.
The FSC Recycled label denotes that a product is made entirely from recycled or reclaimed material, subject to requirements concerning the purchasing, verification, and classification of the reclaimed material. At least 85 per cent of reclaimed material must be verified as having been recycled following consumer use to qualify for the FSC Recycled label.
Australian illegal logging legislation
If you intend to import a regulated timber product, you need to manage the risk that your product may include illegally logged timber.
This process is called ‘due diligence’. Due diligence is a documented risk assessment of your regulated timber product.
You must complete your due diligence before you import a regulated timber product. If you fail to do this, you could face significant financial penalties.
The Australian government sets out requirements for due diligence for timber importers and processors, read their guide.
Due diligence process for FSC certificate holders
Due to the rigorousness of FSC's forest management and chain of custody standards Australia’s illegal logging laws provide for a simplified due diligence process for FSC certificate holders. This is detailed in step 3A of the government's Due Diligence Guide.
FSC certificate holders can carry out their risk assessment using the "Timber Legality Framework" method, which requires that the importer or processor do the following:
1. Confirm that the supplier and product are certified, and
2. Gather the information required in the due diligence process (eg. species, region of harvest, supplier details).
If the timber is FSC certified, and you are not aware of any other information suggesting that the product contains illegal timber, you can assess the risk as low and proceed with importing.
Find out more about Australia's illegal logging laws
Make sure you are doing the right thing, read the step by step requirements for timber importers
CoC Certification Standard FSC-STD-40-004 (V3-0)
Frequent Asked Questions FSC-STD-40-004 V3-0 (27Mar17)
Crosswalk comparing V3-0 & V2-1 FSC-STD-40-004
Watch: Introduction to Chain of Custody
If you are an FSC certificate holder, or interested in becoming one, this webinar will provide an introduction to FSC CoC certification and clear up some of the common issues faced by suppliers when looking to display the FSC label on their products.
Click image to watch webinar
In this webinar:
- Improve your understanding of FSC Chain of Custody (CoC) certification.
- Get clarity on the steps to becoming FSC Chain of Custody certified.
- Avoid common CoC mistakes and misuses of the FSC trademarks.
- Understand why more and more retailers are specifying FSC certification, and how to meet these needs as a supplier.
- Learn how FSC can streamline your due diligence process under the Australian illegal logging laws.
Learn from experts in FSC CoC certification:
- SCS Global Services Senior Lead Auditor, Nick Capobianco
- Woolworths Policy & Regulatory Specialist, Elaine Clayton
- FSC Australia Policy and Advocacy Manager, Julia Mylne
Chain of Custody Q&A
For FSC Mix products, is the percentage of FSC material required in the claim?
Answer from presenter, Nick Capobianco:
Certificate holders must use the full claim (FSC Mix X%) on their sales and delivery documents even for finished products or products that have labels.
Organizations at the end of the supply chain selling FSC finished and labelled products (e.g. retailers, publishers) may omit the percentage or credit information in sales documentation (e.g. using “FSC Mix” claim only instead of “FSC Mix 70%” or “FSC Mix Credit”).
In this case, however, this information is lost and subsequent organizations in the supply chain are not permitted to use or reinstate the percentage or credit information related to these products. Refer to FSC-STD-40-004v3.0 clause 5.2.
Is there an application fee for FSC certification?
Answer from Nick Capobianco:
No two organisations are the same and so each organisation has different challenges. Generically, resource is the biggest issue. Having someone allocate time for reviewing the standards and learning about them before applying them into a written manual or procedures is the first challenge.
My suggestion is read through the CoC standard a couple of times then speak with someone who has implemented CoC or talk to a certifier. Some certifiers like SCS also provide guidance documents to its clients to assist them in understanding the standard requirements.
For those that are time poor, you can seek support from a good consultant. Choose wisely, as a good consultant should be cost effective, efficient and be able to make a CoC system specific to your organisations need as well as provide good training to allow you to run your own systems with out future help.