How to achieve Responsible Wood Chain of Custody for Forest Products Certification.

Chain of Custody Certification is the mechanism used to ensure the traceability of wood material from a certified forest to any point along the supply chain. Chain of custody certification is required to substantiate any claim that wood and wood products are obtained from a certified forest and supplier.

Chain of custody is essentially an inventory tracking and control system and achieving certification demonstrates that this system meets the requirements of the Chain of Custody Standard and has been audited by an independent, accredited certification body.

Businesses that have achieved chain of custody certification are able to identify and provide Responsible Wood and/or PEFC certified wood or wood products. Customers of these businesses can reward and encourage good forest management by demanding products from certified forests and suppliers rather than other sources.

Key Requirements for Certification

1. Put in place management systems that comply with the Standard

The management systems in place must comply with the relevant Standard:

This information can be integrated into existing systems a company has already implemented, such as ISO 9001 or ISO 14001 procedures.

2. Train staff

Identify, brief and train the personnel responsible for performing the tasks which will affect the implementation and maintenance of the chain of custody – buyers, marketing and sales personnel. It is vital to ensure that everyone involved has appropriate knowledge of the purpose and requirements of chain of custody certification.

3. Implement checks to verify that sourced material is certified

Production of certified goods requires procurement of certified material – implement the necessary checks to verify that sourced material is certified.

4. Implement processes to ensure production of certified goods complies with the Standard

Implement processes 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.

5. Maintain records that prove the certification process

Properly maintain the records to prove that all systems comply with the Standard.

6. Conduct annual internal audits

Conduct internal audits must annually. These are in addition to external third-party audits.

Key Steps in Obtaining and Maintaining Certification

1. Contact an accredited certification body

Locate an accredited certification body, establish initial contact by phone, email or personal meeting.

2. Apply for certification

Arrange for an accredited certification body to assess the chain of custody system against the 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.

3. Fees

Costs of certification are determined by individual certification bodies; due to the competitive nature of the certification business, prices may vary. You will also be required to pay an annual Responsible Wood/ PEFC notification fee in Australia OR PEFC Notification fee in New Zealand.

4. Site visit by auditors

Auditors from the certification body will visit your site to assess compliance with the chain of custody standard.

5. Resolve non-compliance issues

Resolve, if necessary, any non-compliance issues. This is a pre-requisite before a chain of custody certificate can be issued.

6. Certification issued

If your chain of custody system is found to be compliant with certification requirements, you will be issued Responsible Wood/PEFC certification. The chain of custody certificate is usually valid for a period of three or five years depending on the Standard used.

7. Annual surveillance audits

An annual surveillance audit is required to confirm that your operation continues to comply with chain of custody requirements.

8. Inclusion in Responsible Wood database of certificate holders

Subject to the payment of all fees the Chain of Custody certificate will be registered on the Responsible Wood and PEFC certification registers as evidence to customers and stakeholders that the certificate holder has met the requirements of the relevant standard.

9. Request to use the Responsible Wood and/ or PEFC logos

If you wish to use the Responsible Wood and/or PEFC logos you will need to enter into a logo licence agreement with Responsible Wood.  Fees for the use of the Responsible Wood and PEFC Logos are covered by the “notification fee” invoiced by the certification body.

10. Renew certification

Upon expiry of your certification, you will be required to undergo a re-qualification audit in order to renew your certification.