With over 20,000 PEFC Chain of Custody certified companies worldwide, our Chain of Custody standard – in addition to delivering PEFC-certified products to the marketplace – has a tremendous impact on internal management processes of numerous businesses along the timber value chain.
This means we must ensure the standard is the best it can be: that it is straightforward to use, that it meets customer expectations, and that it respects the integrity of our requirements and our system.
We regularly review all of our standards to integrate best practices, lessons learnt, and stakeholder expectations, and the Chain of Custody standard is part of the current cycle of standards revision.
Progress so far
The revision of this standard, along with the PEFC Trademarks standard, began in mid-2016. The responsibility for this revision is with Working Group 4, which has so far met six times and developed five working drafts.
Before the revision began, we held a global public consultation, calling on stakeholders to submit their comments on the current PEFC Chain of Custody standard. The objective was to identify the areas for improvement in terms of usability and outcome, and where adaptation is needed to meet stakeholder expectations and market realities.
What is expected to change?
Many of the proposed changes will make PEFC Chain of Custody certification more resource-efficient and environmentally friendly, while retaining the robustness of the system. For example, an option to use remote internal auditing in multi-site certification would reduce travel related costs and greenhouse gas emissions for on-site auditing.
Similarly, the introduction of cross-site product groups would mean that ‘product groups’ would no longer be limited to a single production site. Instead, they could be accessed by several sites of a multi-site certification, also helping to reduce the carbon footprint of a company’s certification.
At the other end of the supply chain, the (re)-introduction of a claim and label for ‘pure’ material coming from certified forests only (with no material from uncertified sources mixed in) would allow buyers of certified material to choose material that has never been mixed with any uncertified material, and buy products that originate exclusively from certified forests. This will help to promote the positive impact of forest certification on the ground even more.
To help make certification more user-friendly, simplified record keeping on a supplier’s certified status would mean keeping records of suppliers’ certificates is no longer required, with the PEFC website the authoritative source concerning the verification of a supplier’s certified status. Longer validity of credits in the volume credit method would mean that credits gained from certified input would be valid up to 24 months instead of only 12 months. This should help companies with lower demand for PEFC-certified material by giving them more time to take advantage of their certified material.
One of the biggest hurdles yet to overcome is the expansion of the PEFC Due Diligence System (DDS) to cover ‘core sustainability issues’. This would further raise the bar for the small amount of uncertified material that can be mixed with certified material, especially in countries with weak legislation and/or law enforcement.
This extension of the DDS to ‘core sustainability issues’ was decided by PEFC Board in late 2017. As this is quite challenging to develop in a meaningful yet user-friendly way, the overall revision process is taking longer than expected.
The next steps
We expect the draft standard to become available for global public consultation in mid-2019. The consultation is an essential part of the PEFC standards setting process: it is when we share the work done by the Working Group with the rest of the world to obtain the input of everyone concerned.
It is important for us to gain additional feedback and insights. No matter where you live, you can contribute and share your knowledge, helping to shape this vital standard. To make sure you don’t miss out, sign up for the standards revision newsletter.
The feedback from the public consultation will have a significant impact on the next stages. If no major changes are needed, the standard may achieve final approval by the PEFC General Assembly by the end of 2019. If more work is required, final approval is likely to be in 2020.
What will these changes mean to companies?
Once the revised standard is approved, there will be a transition period of up to two years. This is to provide companies, certification bodies and accreditation bodies with enough time to understand and implement the new requirements. This transition period will be supplemented with training and webinars at national and international level.