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Chain of Custody

PEFC's Chain of Custody certification is a mechanism for tracking certified material from the forest to the final product to ensure that the wood, wood fibre or non-wood forest produce contained in the product or product line can be traced back to certified forests.

PEFC certified wood panelsIt is an essential part of the PEFC system which ensures that claims about products originating in sustainably managed forests are credible and verifiable throughout the whole supply chain. It is used to certify entities all along the value-chain of forest-based products

The acquisition of Chain of Custody certification reinforces the sustainability commitments of businesses. It provides companies with a commercial advantage as it allows them to use the PEFC logo on products, making them the preferred choice especially for responsible consumers.

Recent data by PEFC International shows a growing interest by companies in Chain of Custody certification and of their customers in procuring wood-based products responsibly, with a current growth rate of more than 30% per year.

Chain of Custody certification is carried out by accredited certification bodies that verify compliance of the wood flow accounting system applied by an enterprise complies with PEFC's International Chain of Custody Standard.

All bodies certifying on behalf of PEFC meet the requirements for certification bodies defined by International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) standards.

There are two mechanisms for tracing the origins of forest-based products, tailored to the situation and needs of certified companies.

  • The percentage based method – this mechanism allows mixing certified and non-certified raw material during the production or trading process. However the percentage of the certified raw material must be known and communicated to the company's customers (average percentage).

    Alternatively, the company can sell as certified the proportion of its production which equals the percentage of certified raw material used (volume credit).
  • The physical separation method – this mechanism requires separating certified and non-certified raw material during all phases of the company's production/trading process to ensure that certified raw material is not mixed with non-certified raw material.

    When the physical separation method is used for products with percentage-based claims, every delivery must be processed or traded separately.

Austrian-timber-and-machineTo prevent wood from controversial sources (illegal logging) finding its way into products, PEFC has put in place a stringent safeguard mechanism for the avoidance of raw material from controversial sources.

The mechanism is a compulsory part of PEFC’s Chain of Custody standard and puts in place safety checks such as risk analyses, external assessments and onsite inspections to ensure the legality of the uncertified wood. These safeguard checks are scrutinized by the independent certifiers during their annual audits and provide companies with a “double safeguard measure” for their procurement.

The Chain of Custody standard specifies as controversial sources those activities that do not comply with local, national, or international legislation,  in particular relating to the following areas:

  • forestry operations and harvesting, including conversion of forest to other uses;
  • management of areas with high environmental and cultural values designed and covered by the legislation;
  • protected and endangered species, including requirements of CITES;
  • health and labour issues relating to forest workers;
  • property, tenure and use rights of indigenous peoples;
  • payment of taxes and royalties; and
  • areas utilizing genetically modified organisms.waldschutz

Implementation of the necessary mechanisms within a company to ensure compliance with PEFC's International Chain of Custody Standard requires detailed management systems in line with firmly established and globally implemented standards such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001.

PEFC Documentation

PEFC ST 2002 2013 smChain of Custody (PEFC ST 2002:2013) Second Edition
Specifies the requirements that organizations must comply with in order to be able to obtain chain of custody certification.

ISO/IEC Guide 65 - General Requirements for Bodies Operating Product Certification Systems
Specifies general requirements for third-party operating a product certification system.

ISO/IEC Guide 2 - Standardization and Related Activities - General Vocabulary
Provides general terms and definitions concerning standardization and related activities, including the definition for consensus.

ISO 9000:2005 - Quality Management Systems - Fundamentals and Vocabulary
Describes fundamentals of quality management systems, which form the subject of the ISO 9000 family, and defines related terms.

ISO 9001:2008 - Quality Management Systems - Requirements
Specifies requirements for a quality management system where an organization

  • needs to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide product that meets customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and
  • aims to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for continual improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

ISO 14001:2004 - Environmental Management Systems - Requirements with Guidance for Use
Specifies requirements for an environmental management system to enable an organization to develop and implement a policy and objectives which take into account legal requirements and other requirements to which the organization subscribes, and information about significant environmental aspects.

ISO 14020:2000 - Environmental Labels and Declarations - General Principles
Establishes guiding principles for the development and use of environmental labels and declarations.

PEFC Certified

Forests area: 309 million ha
Forest owners: > 750,000
Companies (CoC): > 20,000

(as of December 2018)

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