How to get PEFC chain of custody certified
To earn PEFC chain of custody certification, you must develop and implement procedures to account for the purchasing, tracking, manufacturing, sale and recordkeeping of certified materials.
We base PEFC chain of custody certification on best practice guidelines for certification. We use globally accepted ISO guidelines to ensure independence, transparency and impartiality of the certification process.
Preparing for certification
Which certification is right for you?
First, you’ll need to determine the scope of your certification. Which products do you want to sell with a PEFC claim or label? Are you looking at certifying a one-off project? What parts of your organization carry out chain of custody activities? Does your organization have chain of custody activities in multiple locations?
Check the PEFC Chain of Custody standard version
In January 2020, PEFC published the latest versions of the PEFC Chain of Custody (ST 2002) and PEFC Trademarks (ST 2001) standards. These standards entered into force on 14 February 2020, with a 30-month transition period. This means that until 14 August 2022, there are two versions of the PEFC Chain of Custody standard: the latest version from 2020 and the older version from 2013. At this time, it is possible to be certified against either standard version.
Before starting to fulfil the PEFC chain of custody requirements, you need to choose which standard version you wish to be certified against. When making this decision, please take into consideration that certification bodies cannot provide certification services for the latest version until they have trained their auditors and adapted their procedures.
Fulfil the requirements
In order to obtain PEFC chain of custody certification, you need to fulfil certain key requirements.
Your management system outlining procedures must comply with the PEFC International Chain of Custody standard (PEFC ST 2002). You can integrate this information into the existing systems your company may have already implemented, such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 procedures.
You need to identify, brief and train the personnel responsible for performing the tasks that will affect the implementation and maintenance of the chain of custody; this includes buyers, marketing and sales personnel, among others. It is vital to ensure that everyone involved has appropriate knowledge of the purpose and requirements of chain of custody certification.
You will need to implement the necessary checks to verify that sourced material is PEFC certified – production of certified goods requires procurement of certified material. Our online database is a good resource for identifying suppliers of certified material.
You must implement processes to ensure that you have separated the production or handling of certified goods from non-certified goods, and that you have accurately accounted for the certified content in a product that contains both certified and non-certified material. Proof may be required at any stage of the process. You also need to keep records to prove that all systems comply with the requirements.
You will then have to conduct periodic reviews of your system and internal audits on an annual basis. These internal audits are in addition to external third-party audits.
The certification process
Once you have gone through all the preparatory work and set up your chain of custody system, you are ready to apply for PEFC certification.
The certification body
First, find a PEFC-recognized certification body in your country and get in contact with them. You can search for certification bodies using our online database. You will need to make an application for chain of custody certification with the certification body of your choice.
If you have set up your chain of custody system in line with the requirements from the 2020 Chain of Custody standard, ask your chosen certification body if they are able to offer certification against this standard. Due to the 24-month transition period, some certification bodies may not yet be able to offer this certification.
Based on this application, you will receive a proposal, including a cost estimate. Certification bodies set the cost of PEFC chain of custody certification, so prices may vary by country and certification body. Most certification bodies establish their fees based on the time needed to carry out the audit. Audit time depends on a number of variables, including company size and complexity of the chain of custody. This averages between half a day and two days.
Arrange for the certification body to assess your chain of custody system against the Chain of Custody standard, checking that you have fulfilled all requirements. This will include a site visit by auditors from the certification body to assess your compliance.
As part of the normal auditing process, the certification body may identify aspects of your chain of custody that may not comply with the requirements of the standard. Before granting you the certification, the certification body will request you to solve them within certain period of time.
If the certification body finds your chain of custody system to be compliant with the certification requirements, they will issue you a PEFC certificate. The certificate is valid for a period of maximum five years. During that time, the certification body will carry out annual surveillance audits to confirm that your operation continues to comply with chain of custody requirements.
In order to renew your certification upon expiry of the certificate, you will be required to undergo a re-certification audit.