MixedWood ConsultingUseful Resources & Links
References for Green Certification
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Out of all the certification standards, FSC is arguably the most acclaimed and most recognizable. In 1993, the FSC was founded as a result of disagreement over how to stop deforestation. Their vision is to promote economically prosperous management of the world’s forests without compromising their health for future generations. Administered globally through offices in Bonn, Germany, it also has national affiliates in many countries. Follow links below to their international, US, and CA sites.
FSC Standards and Technical Documents
Keeping up to date with FSC standards, policies, protocols, etc. can be daunting. They are all readily accessible, however, in the FSC Document Centre. All “normative” standards and guidance are managed centrally by FSC-IC.
FSC Certificate Database
Once a business is certified by FSC, anyone can search current certification by its unique license code in FSC’s public database.
We think the document retrieval can be frustrating to access in FSC’s newly designed Document Centre. If you have difficulty accessing their library to retrieve documents, we have attached direct links to the most commonly used standards below:
Chain of Custody Certification
Current version: FSC-STD-40-004 (V3-0)
This is the core standard for FSC CoC certification that specifies the requirements which apply to all CoC certified and applicant organizations with respect to sourcing, processing, labeling, and sale of forest-based products as FSC certified.
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FSC has also prepared a Chain of Custody Directive Document, which is FSC’s official interpretation of standard requirements. This document is NOT required but may help provide a better understanding or clarification of FSC’s expectations to CoC certification.
Requirements for use of the FSC trademarks by Certificate Holders
Current version: FSC-STD-50-001 V2-0
This standard is mandatory for all FSC certificate holders who are entitled to use the FSC trademarks and sets out how to use the FSC trademarks correctly. The standard covers use of the FSC trademarks on FSC certified products, use for promotion of FSC certified products, and for promotion of the company’s status as an FSC certificate holder. This standard forms the basis for evaluation and approval by FSC accredited certification bodies of all certificate holders’ FSC trademark use.
Requirements for Sourcing FSC Controlled Wood
Current version: FSC-STD-40-005 V3-1
This standard outlines the requirements for a due diligence system for FSC Chain of Custody certified organizations to avoid material from unacceptable sources.
Special note: The Requirements for Sourcing FSC Controlled Wood (FSC-STD-40-005) does not require disclosure of price or cost information to be shared among organizations seeking certification. The standard requires disclosure only as far as necessary to verify compliance with particular control measures, and pricing information is not included therein. FSC recommends that all pricing information be redacted from the documentation that is shared to verify compliance.
FSC has also prepared a Directive on FSC Controlled Wood. This document is NOT mandatory to certification but provides FSC’s errata and addenda of the requirements included in FSC-STD-40-005.
Chain of Custody Certification of Multiple Sites
Current version: FSC-STD-40-003 (V2-1)
The objective of this document is to provide the conditions and requirements for the establishment and management of Chain of Custody certificates with multiple sites.
Sourcing reclaimed material for use in FSC Product Groups of FSC Certified Projects
Current version: FSC-STD-40-007 (V2-0)
This standard stipulates the requirements that shall be followed by organizations certified according to FSC-STD-40-004 or FSC-STD-40-006 for purchasing, verifying and classifying reclaimed forest-based inputs (including materials such as bamboo and cork) for use in FSC Product Groups and FSC Certified Projects.
Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
The SFI program is probably the leading alternative to FSC – at least in North America. It is administered through offices in Ottawa and Washington DC. The SFI program has some unique approaches to certification labels and claims, with a focus on forests benefiting communities and local education. We recommend this helpful summary.
SFI’s entire program document includes 13 sections: an introduction, three individual standards, rules, guidance, policy, development & interpretation, auditing procedures, communications & public reporting, public inquiries & official complaints, optional modules, and definitions.
Below we have links to the SFI website and a link to their standard documents for Forest Management (Section 2), Fiber Sourcing (Section 3), and Chain of Custody (Section 4).
SFI 2015-2019 (Extended through Dec 2021) Program
Unlike FSC and PEFC, SFI is aggregated into a single, rather long, unified document.
SFI Certification Database
SFI maintains a comprehensive database to ensure easy access to relevant information about certificate holders, label use, and products.
Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)
The PEFC program (spelled the European way) is the principal global alternative and competitor to FSC. It’s North American affiliate is the SFI program and is considered the certification system of choice for small forest owners.
PEFC distinguishes between four different document types:
International standards are applied directly to the field. These include our Chain of Custody and Logo Usage standards, used by thousands of companies, certification bodies and accreditation bodies around the world.
National forest certification systems use our benchmark standards to develop their national standards. They are not used directly in the field, but set out the requirements that national standards and their development process must meet in order to achieve PEFC endorsement. Our Sustainable Forest Management standard is a benchmark standard.
Procedural documents govern the functioning of the PEFC system itself. This category includes the procedure for the assessment and endorsement of national standards. It also covers various administrative procedures for our national members and us, such as issuing PEFC logo licenses.
Guidance documents, as the name suggests, provide additional guidance for users of some of our other standards.
We have links to some of PEFC’s key documents below by category. You can also view applicable technical documentation by following the link here.
Sustainable Forest Management
Current version: PEFC ST 1003
This benchmark lays out the international requirements for sustainable forest management. Developed by a working group with the representation of all relevant stakeholders, it describes the criteria and indicators we believe are vital for the sustainable management of a forest.
Every national forest management standard must address these requirements to achieve PEFC endorsement. On the ground, this benchmark is the basis for the requirements that forest owners or managers must meet to achieve PEFC certification at a local level, making it one of our most important standards.
Group Forest Management Certification
Current version: PEFC ST 1002
This benchmark defines the general requirements for national forest certification systems with group forest management certification. Stakeholders use this benchmark when they develop their national group certification requirements. It covers aspects such as the minimum requirements for internal monitoring and auditing within a certified group – a vital process if group certification is to be effective.
Group certification enables the certification of a number of forest owners/managers under one certificate. Developed by us two decades ago, it allows groups of small-forest landholders to organize themselves, pool their resources, and work together to achieve certification. This makes certification accessible for small-forest owners.
Chain of Custody
Current version: PEFC ST 2002
This standard lays out the requirements for Chain of Custody certification for forest-based products – the conditions a company must meet in order to achieve PEFC certification. During the certification process, the certification body will assess the company against the requirements set out in this document. If the company complies, they will receive their PEFC Chain of Custody certificate.
PEFC Chain of Custody establishes the link from the forest to the market, tracking forest-based products from sustainable sources to the final product. In addition, this standard includes minimum requirements on health, safety and labour issues.
PEFC Logo Usage Rules
Current version: PEFC ST 2001
The standard covers the requirements that entities must follow when using the PEFC logo, in order to ensure accurate, verifiable, relevant and non-misleading use of the PEFC logo and related claims. It defines the legal protection of the PEFC logo; the rights to use the PEFC logo; logo usage categories and the requirements for on- and off-product usage of the PEFC logo.
PEFC Certificate Holder Database
PEFC maintains comprehensive databases to ensure easy access to relevant information about certificate holders, logo and label users, certified products, accredited certification bodies, and PEFC-endorsed national certification systems.
References for Green Certification
Independent Information Sources
Dovetail Partners is one of the best places to go if you want detailed and (relatively) unbiased information about forest product certification, and other topics of environmental concern and interest.
Terrachoice is an environmental marketing and consulting firm that has been very prominent in helping to define “greenwashing” and promote accurate, supportable environmental claims in the business world. Their website provides access to some (in our opinion) required reading for anyone interested in green certification.
NEPCon is a site that offers a global focus from a European perspective, the NEPCon site provides a nice, concise summary of certification options and lots of good links to the broader marketplace. They are partnered with Rainforest Alliance (a certification service provider) so all of their “get certified” links lead to one source.
Two Sides provides a very well-organized and helpful site aimed at supporting the case for paper as an environmentally responsible product. Two Sides mission could be accused of being a bit “one-sided”, but they provide very comprehensive information sources and lots of helpful links.
The US Federal Trade Commission maintains a set of guidelines for Environmental Marketing Claims. Termed the Green Guides, this document remains definitive and indispensable for any company doing business in the United States.
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