Forests area: 303 million ha
Forest owners: > 750,000
Companies (CoC): 18,800
PEFC Chain of Custody certification is based on best practice guidelines for certification. It uses globally implemented ISO guidelines to ensure independence, transparency and impartiality of the certification process.
In order to obtain PEFC Chain of Custody certification, certain key requirements must be fulfilled.
• The management systems in place outlining procedures must ensure compliance with the PEFC International Chain of Custody standard, PEFC Standard 2002:2013. This information can be integrated into existing systems your company may have already implemented, such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 procedures.
• The personnel responsible for performing the tasks which will affect the implementation and maintenance of the chain of custody, e.g, buyers, marketing and sales personnel, must be identified, briefed and trained. It is vital to ensure that everyone involved has appropriate knowledge of the purpose and requirements of Chain of Custody certification.
• The necessary checks need to be implemented to verify that sourced material is certified – production of certified goods requires procurement of certified material. The PEFC product database is a good resource for identifying suppliers of certified material.
• The processes must be implemented to ensure that the production of certified goods meets the requirements for Chain of Custody certification. Proof may be required at any stage of the process.
• The records to prove that all systems comply with requirements must be properly maintained.
• Internal audits must be conducted on an annual basis. These internal audits are in addition to external third-party audits.
What follows is a description of some of the key stages required to obtain Chain of Custody certification:
• Set up the Chain of Custody system and train staff; ensure compliance with PEFC's strict requirements.
• You may consider getting advise from a consultant specialising on PEFC Chain of Custody certification. Arrange for an independent certification body to assess your company against the international PEFC Chain of Custody standard and check that all requirements are fulfilled.
This is done by making a formal application for Chain of Custody certification with the certification body of your choice. Based on this application, you will receive a proposal, including a cost estimate. Costs of PEFC Chain of Custody certification are fixed by individual certification bodies; due to the competitive nature of the certification business prices may vary by certification body.
Most certification bodies establish their fees on the basis of 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.
• A site visit by auditors from the certification body to assess compliance with the PEFC International Chain of Custody Standard will be arranged.
Resolve, if necessary, any non-compliance issues. This is a pre-requisite before a Chain of Custody certificate can be issued.
• If your Chain of Custody system is found to be compliant with certification requirements, you will be issued a PEFC certificate. The Chain of Custody certificate is usually valid for a period of five years. An annual surveillance audit is required to confirm that your operation continues to comply with Chain of Custody requirements.
• Renew Chain of Custody certification. In order to renew your Chain of Custody certification upon expiry, you will be required to undergo a new assessment.
PEFC Project Chain of Custody certification is a specific form of Chain of Custody certification that allows you to take advantage of PEFC certification for your projects.
Chain of Custody certification is well suited for the ongoing and continuous production of certified products across a wide range of areas including paper, packaging, tissue products or furniture. However, it is not always the most efficient option for short-term projects involving different, uncertified contractors, such as in the construction industry, or the one-off production of a specific product.
PEFC Project Chain of Custody certification recognises that not all parties involved in specific projects are certified, even though forest-based material used for the project is covered by Chain of Custody certification. Usually, the fact that non-certified parties handle certified material would break the chain, and this is where PEFC Project Chain of Custody comes into play.
With PEFC Project Chain of Custody, the specific project is considered to be the ‘product’ to which the Chain of Custody process is applied. In practice, this means that when a 'Project Manager' obtains a Chain of Custody certificate for project certification, contractors working on this project are covered as Project Members and are not required to obtain Chain of Custody certification themselves.
As the Project Manager, they will have to comply with the relevant requirements and establish a suitable management system. This management system will allow for the control of records, training of staff, internal audits, and complaint resolution.
This system will also cover the activities performed by Project Members, to control and record timber arriving and being used on site. As with the regular Chain of Custody, meticulous records must be maintained on all aspects of the forest-based products received on site, and employees involved in the project must be competent and receive sufficient training.