So What is Chain-of-Custody Certification?
Many of you now have probably seen a Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain-of-custody label or logo on wood construction products, paper products (printed advertisements, envelopes, restaurant menus, business mailings, etc.) and packaging.
You’ve also probably wondered what it means. Chain-of -custody certification means that the product is made from wood fiber obtained from certified, responsibly managed forests. To ensure that the product came from certified fiber, chain-of-custody certification tracks the raw material from the forest to the consumer, including all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing and distribution.
In order for manufacturers of forest products, paper merchants, converters, wood dealers, wood yards, wholesalers, brokers and printers to become certified, they must prepare procedures for purchasing, receiving, storage, processing, shipping and invoicing of certified material. This includes inventory control, employee training and reporting. Paperwork from the certified supplier and the companies own shipping paperwork must be kept on file and have the proper documentation. A paper trail of documents is kept to verify and track raw material from certified forests to the end product.
So why is this important? Consumers are assured that they are buying products sourced directly from responsibly managed forests. Consumers can make responsible environmental decisions and avoid buying products from illegal sources or from areas without effective social laws. Consumers can reward companies that are demonstrating their commitment to environmentally and socially responsible forest management.
For certified companies, they can make claims about how much of their product comes from certified lands, how much contains post-consumer recycled content and how much comes from non-certified/non-controversial forest content. Some companies are able to receive a premium for their certified product while others are able to maintain or expand their market share. Chain-of-custody certification has also offered access to international markets.
SFI Chain-of-custody certification recognizes the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) and the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) as certified sources. FSC chain-of-custody recognizes only FSC certified sources. Several local sawmills and papermill (Idaho Forest Group, Stimson Lumber Company, Clearwater Paper Corporation, Clearwater Lumber to name a few) are chain-of-custody certified or are going through the certification process.