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FSC® Chain of Custody

Certification for Wood and Paper Products
Joseph Kochanski, Business Development Manager, Natural Resourcesphone icon510.452.6394 Email

Assure customers that your wood and paper products meet the world's most stringent environmental, ethical, and economic sourcing standards with Forest Stewardship Council Chain-of-Custody (FSC CoC) certification. Whether you are a sawmill, papermill manufacturer, broker, distributor, wholesaler, retailer, or printer, FSC CoC certification gives you access to the growing global market for responsibly sourced wood and paper products.

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Program Details

FSC CoC certification is available to all companies that process or sell forest products, including sawmills, secondary manufacturers, brokers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, printers, and paper merchants. This certification verifies use of input materials from FSC-certified forests and recycled sources.

Certification Types

FSC CoC operations range from simple to very complex. There are distinct CoC standards addressing companies with multiple facilities, the outsourcing of production, verification of "Controlled Wood", and recycled content. SCS offers the following certifications:

  • Single site: For companies that operate one facility and want to demonstrate environmental performance across the supply chain.

  • Multi-site Certification: For companies that operate several facilities, designate a "Central Office", and manage one certificate.

  • Group Certification: Allows small, independent operations to join together to designate a "Group Manager" who oversees conformity of group members on a single certificate.

  • Project Certification: For new building or renovation projects, or production of a specific product.

SCS also offers Controlled Wood Certification for forest management operations not ready for full FSC certification as well as dual certification with PEFC Chain of Custody. Wood products may also qualify for SCS Recycled Content, SCS Indoor Advantage indoor air quality, or SCS CARB Formaldehyde Compliance (CARB ATCM) certification.

Complementary Services

FSC Chain of Custody certification audits can be conducted concurrently with PEFC Chain of Custody audits, enabling you to get even more value from your certification efforts. Wood products may also qualify for SCS Recycled Content, SCS Indoor Advantage indoor air quality, or SCS CARB Formaldehyde Compliance (CARB ATCM) certification. Woody biomass producers may also wish to combine PEFC Chain of Custody audits with Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) audits to reduce overall audit time and expense.

FSC® One Simple Action Campaign
  1. Apply for Certification

    Complete and submit the SCS Application form. SCS will then prepare a proposal for your approval with suggested scope of work, timeline and quote. If the proposal meets your needs you will sign a Work Order and the audit will be scheduled.

  2. Written Procedures

    Create company procedures that demonstrate how certified wood or paper products will be tracked throughout your operation. SCS provides guidance to help explain the chain-of-custody requirements.

  3. Pre-Audit Assessment

    An SCS auditor will review your procedures for thoroughness and conformance. The auditor identifies areas for improvement in the procedures prior to the audit.

  4. On-site Audit

    During a site visit, an SCS auditor will review the chain-of-custody procedures and documents (from receipt of inputs to the final sale). Additionally, the auditor will tour the facilities where certified material is handled and interview key staff. We look for evidence that staff has been duly trained in the CoC responsibilities that have been assigned to them and that staff possess an understanding of the workflow for certified products.

  5. Assessment Report

    Based on audit findings, SCS produces an audit report. The audit report is submitted to a SCS Technical Associate who validates the appropriateness of the auditor's methodology and conclusions.

  6. Make Certification Decision

    The Technical Associate decides whether to grant certification. If granted, you will be issued a certificate valid for a five-year period. Any conditional Major Corrective Action Requests (CARs) identified by SCS must be closed prior to obtaining certification.

  7. Maintain Certification

    Annual surveillance audits are required to maintain chain-of-custody certification. Certified companies and product offerings are listed on the official FSC certificate holder database. Certified companies are granted permission to use trademarks for on-product and off-product applications in conformance with the appropriate trademark standard.

Do I need to be Chain-of-Custody certified?

Companies pursue Chain-of-Custody certification to demonstrate to their clients and the general public that the wood or paper products that they are selling are traceable to the forest of origin. Your company needs Chain-of-Custody certification if you take legal ownership of certified materials or products and wish to pass on a commercial claim that the product that you are selling is certified, whether that claim is on-product, on an invoice, or in other communication. Companies at the end of the supply chain, like retailers who will not be passing the claim forward on an invoice, are not required to hold a certificate although they may choose to do so. Retailers and other companies at the end of the supply chain that don't chose to hold a certificate must register directly with FSC to use their trademark.

What type of Chain-of-Custody certification do I need?

Every Chain-of-Custody certificate holder must conform to the basic Chain-of-Custody Standard. Certification to additional standards may be necessary depending on the structure of your organization (multi-site or group standard) and the use of uncertified materials (virgin or recycled) that you might wish to source and mix with your certified materials or products. Please contact an SCS salesperson to determine what sort of certification is necessary for your operation.

How can I use the SCS Kingfisher Responsible Forestry logo?

SCS FSC certificate holders in good standing can use the Kingfisher Responsible Forestry logo for on-product and promotional claims in conjunction with use of the FSC logo. Logo use guidelines and images are provided upon achieving certification.

Does FSC Chain-of-Custody certification make me eligible for green building program credits?

Yes, there are many green building programs such as US Green Building Council's LEED program, LEED India, as well as the Green Building Council of Australia that offer credits for the use of certified wood products in construction. Consult the green building standard or a local green building professional to learn more. There are also many government and corporate procurement programs that require the use of certified wood products.

How much does Chain-of-Custody certification cost?

Prices for SCS auditing services varies depending on the location, size and complexity of your operation. Chain-of-Custody systems range from simple to very complex, and there are separate CoC standards addressing companies with multiple facilities, outsource manufacturing, and the verification of recycled or non-controversial sources. Annual surveillance audits are required to maintain your certification. SCS offers reduced prices for companies that hold multiple SCS certifications (for example Chain-of-Custody and Indoor Air Quality or Recycled Content). Please ask your sales associate about which other types of certifications that might benefit your company.

How long does the Chain-of-Custody certification process take?

At SCS, customer service and responsiveness is a priority. We typically are able to send our auditors to your facility, provide you with an audit report and make a certification decision within 6 to 8 weeks of starting the project. Larger and more complex projects may take longer.

Can SCS help me prepare for my audit?

FSC accredited Certification bodies are required to remain independent from the companies/entities that we are assessing for certification so we cannot provide company-specific training or consulting services. However, SCS does provide our certification applicants with industry-focused guidance documents that explain the relevant certification requirements and provide some generic templates (publically available upon request). For most companies, this is all the help that is needed. If you do require assistance to set up a more complicated chain of custody system SCS can provide a list of independent consultants. Additionally, as part of the pre-audit assessment included in the scope of SCS’s initial evaluation audits, our auditor will review your draft procedures to help identify any potential issues prior to the full evaluation audit.

How long is my Chain-of-Custody certificate valid?

A Chain-of-Custody certificate is valid for five years. Annual surveillance audits are required to maintain your certificate.

For immediate service:

Joseph Kochanski, Business Development Manager, Natural Resources phone icon 510.452.6394 Email Joseph