FSC® Chain of Custody (CoC)

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FSC Requirements for Chain of Custody (CoC) Certification

The basic idea of Chain of Custody (CoC) certification is the complete traceability and documentation of the product flow from the final product back to its origin in the forest.

The fundament for the certification of traders and processing organizations is the standard FSC-STD-40-004. According to the activities and structure of an organization, other standards may become relevant.

The most important requirement is to ensure that only eligible material is used and that mixing with non controlled materials is excluded. Further important requirements are the control of the certified suppliers,  the correct declaration on the products, on  invoices and delivery notes. This equally concerns purchasing and selling.

Three options available

A) Transfer System (Physical separation): Certified material is separated from non certified material during storage and processing. The material can either be spatially or temporally separated.

B) Percentage system: For products made of several components with a defined and constant composition (e.g. furniture), at most 30% of their weight or volume may consist of controlled (= non certified) material.

C) Credit system (input / output): For products with changing contents of FSC material (e.g. chipboards), the product flow can be calculated by way of a material balance. For a period of at most 12 months, the part of the production can be sold as certified depending on the amount which had been purchased and registered as certified in the system before.

FSC distinguishes between different material categories. According to them, different types of logos for product labeling are offered. Depending on the desired logo type, different material categories are allowed to be part of the product. Likewise, according to the selected products, different requirements  are valid.

Material CategoryFSC Label Category
„FSC 100%“
Wood or wood fiber from FSC certified forests from a transfer system (physical separation).
„FSC Mix x%“
Material mix from a percentage system in which x represents the percentage of FSC material (at least 70%).

„FSC Mix Credit“
Material mix from a credit system (counts as 100% FSC input)

„FSC Recycled x%“
100 % recycled material from a percentage system, at least 85% from already used and recycled material (post-consumer), the remaining part from production residuals of recycled material (pre-consumer).

„FSC Recycled Credit"
Recycled material from a credit system (counts as 100% of already used and recycled material / post - consumer)

In addition to the three categories of certified material, a difference between „controlled“ and „non controlled“ exists for non certified material. There are additional guidelines for the control of non certified material. Only controlled material may be used in FSC products. Material which is not certified according to the FSC standard is also regarded as „non controlled“, for example PEEFC certified material.

Summary of the most important FSC Standards

  • FSC-POL-40-002: Policy for Groups (Association of small, independent organizations)
  • FSC-STD-40-003: Standard for Multi-Site (Organization with several sites)
  • FSC-STD-40-004: Standard for Chain of Custody (Traders and Processors)
  • FSC-STD-40-005: Standard for FSC Controlled Wood (Controlled Wood)
  • FSC-STD-007: Standard for Reclaimed Material in FSC Product Groups

Multi-Site Standard: STD-40-003
For large organizations with several sites, e.g. sawmills with various locations, a so called Multi-Site certification is necessary. The head office is responsible for the implementation of the standards on all levels of the organization and has to ensure compliance by means of regular internal controls of the different sites. The external control is realized by an annual audit in the head office and spot checks on the different sites involved.

CoC Group: POL-40-002
Similar requirements exist for a group certification; in this case, several legally independent operations join for certification. This is only allowed for small firms (a maximum of 15 employees and 25 employees with an annual turnover of up to 1 million US $ respectively). A group representation must be appointed which is responsible for the internal control of the group members. The external control is realized analogous to the Multi-site certification by an annual spot check. This model is suited i.e. for associations of organized trade firms.

Recycled Material: STD-40-007
IIf non certified recycled material is meant to be processed, the supply chain will be controlled.Thereby, it is distinguished between already used final products (post-consumer: packages, construction and demolition waste etc.) and rests of materials from production processes (pre-consumer: rejected products, merchant return stock, bindery trim and scrap etc.)  An on-site control of the suppliers might be necessary.


Department of Forestry & Timber
Fon +41 (0) 71 626 0 628 and
        +49 (0) 7531  9429130
forest@ecocert.com (FM)
wood&paper@ecocert.com (COC)

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