Chain of Custody Certification

Tracking Products from Forest to Shelf

(© the Body Shop)© the Body ShopFSC Chain of Custody certification is a voluntary certification system available to supply chain companies who want to demonstrate their commitment to responsible forest management by having their company’s planning, practices and products independently evaluated against FSC’s Chain of Custody standards. FSC Chain of Custody certification allows companies to label their FSC products, which in turn enables consumers to identify and choose products that support responsible forest management.


Assurance for consumers and a gateway to new markets

Consumers are increasingly concerned with choosing products that are responsibly sourced and made. FSC chain of custody certification allows companies to use the FSC label, giving consumers assurance about the origin of the products they buy.

If you’re a business hoping to enter markets that are particularly environmentally and socially aware, chain of custody certification is an essential credential. Achieving certification is also a great way to demonstrate compliance with public and private sector procurement policies – such as the EU Ecolabel and US Green Building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – that specify environmentally responsible materials.


Who needs Certification?

All operations that want to produce an FSC-certified product or make claims pertaining to FSC-certified products must possess an FSC Chain of Custody certificate. This means that any company involved in the transformation, processing, manufacturing or distribution of a forest-based product must be FSC-certified in order to sell products with an FSC logo and/or with an FSC Claim.

This includes, but is not limited to, sawmills, primary & secondary manufacturers, timber brokers, distributors/wholesalers, pulp mills, paper mills, paper merchants, printing companies, print brokers (that take legal possession). Once a company is certified they may place the FSC Label on a certified product or pass on an FSC Claim.


Chain of Custody Standard

The FSC Chain of Custody standard focuses on the tracking of forest fibre through the supply chain. The standard provides requirements for how to verify, track, and mix forest fibre of different types and sources so that only products that meet FSC's requirement are able to carry an FSC Claim and/or FSC logo. To become FSC Chain of Custody certified, companies must meet the requirements outlined in the Chain of Custody Standard FSC-STD-40-004.

As of January 1, 2017 the FSC Board of Directors has approved revised FSC chain-of-custody standard FSC-STD-40-004 V3-0. The main purpose of this revision process was to simplify and streamline the chain-of-custody certification. The revised standard became effective on April 1, 2017 and all FSC chain-of-custody certificate holders will have been evaluated against the new standard by March 31 2018.


Tracking Products from Forest to Shelf

FSC certification tracks products from the forest to the shelf. All FSC products are verified by third-party Certification Bodies to meet FSC's rigorous requirements through the FSC Forest Management (FM) and Chain of Custody (CoC) certification systems.

Each FSC-certified company receives a unique FSC code, which can be found on FSC products and can be tracked through the supply chain to the manufacturer, distributor or supplier of the product. Track your FSC code or look up an FSC-certified company at www.info-fsc.org


Certification Process

FSC Certification takes place through independent third-party assessments of applicant companies by Certification Bodies. An independent third-party Certification Body will conduct an assessment to ensure that controls are in place to identify eligible sources for the specified product range and to prevent certified and recycled material from mixing with material from unacceptable sources.

At the end of the evaluation, the assessment team reports any areas where management or products do not meet the applicable requirements, known as ‘non-conformities’. The Certifier can then issue a certificate, on condition that non-conformities will be corrected or, the Certifier will not issue a certificate until the non-conformities have been solved. Chain of Custody certificates are valid for five years, subject to annual audits.


© Forest Stewardship Council® · FSC® F000205