Changes to our key standards
In February 2020, PEFC published the 2020 versions of three vital international standards: Chain of Custody (ST 2002), PEFC Trademarks (ST 2001) and Certification Body Requirements - Chain of Custody (ST 2003). These standards all entered into force on 14 February 2020.
For certification bodies currently providing PEFC chain of custody certification services, we have provided comprehensive guidance on what you need to do in order to offer certification against the 2020 standards. For PEFC chain of custody certified companies, there's information on what the 2020 standards mean for your certification. If you are not certified, but thinking about getting certified, we have also provided advice on what your next steps should be.
Please note, due to the COVID-19 situation, we have extended the 18-month transition period by six months. The new transition date - the date by when your procedures need to be in line with the requirements of the 2020 standards - is 14 February 2022.
Some of the key changes made to these three standards:
Most notable are changes to the Chain of Custody standard, specifically the expansion of the definition of controversial sources.
Chain of custody establishes the link from the forest to the market, tracking forest-based material from sustainable sources to the final product. The Chain of Custody standard lays out the requirements that a company must meet to achieve PEFC chain of custody certification. This includes requirements to avoid “controversial sources” - material not to be used in certified products.
The updated definition of controversial sources now incorporates additional sustainability requirements, enabling companies along the entire timber value chain, including those far removed from the forest, to help promote responsible forestry beyond the purchase of certified wood.
The updated definition requires companies to avoid material originating from unsustainable activities, including those where:
- ecologically important forest areas are not identified, protected, conserved or set aside;
- the spirit of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (1998) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007) is not met;
- forest conversions occur;
- forest management does not contribute to the maintenance, conservation or enhancement of biodiversity on landscape, ecosystem, species or genetic levels; and
- the capability of forests to produce a range of wood and non-wood forest products and services on a sustainable basis is not maintained or harvesting levels exceed a rate that can be sustained in the long term.
Genetically modified trees, as well as conflict timber, is also not allowed.
Certified companies continue to need to implement requirements relating to health, safety and labour issues that are based on ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
Other changes to the Chain of Custody standard include:
- Introduction of the new '100% PEFC Origin' claim for products that contain 100% material from PEFC-certified forests that has been physically separated from any non-certified wood a company may be using
- Trees outside Forests (TOF) now enter the chain of custody as forest and tree based products (no longer neutral material)
- Companies using the credit method can expand their credit accounts from 12 to 24 months
- Product groups may cover several sites under multi-site certification
- Verification of supplier’s certified status shall be done on the PEFC website
The new PEFC Trademarks standard, which replaces the PEFC Logo usage rules, strengthens the consistent use of PEFC trademarks worldwide, while also making it easier for consumers to understand what the PEFC logo stands for.
Importantly, it requires companies to use the PEFC Label Generator, a free and easy to use online tool that enables the quick creation of PEFC trademarks, to ensure alignment with our requirements.
There are also additional label messages for the PEFC off-product label, providing companies, brands and forest owners alike with different options when communicating their certification/use of certified material. The 'TM' symbol has also been removed from the PEFC logo and initials.
With the revised Certification Body Requirements (Chain of Custody), auditors are now subject to additional training requirements for conducting PEFC chain of custody certification.
This further safeguards the integrity of the conformity assessment process, and ensures that specifics concerning PEFC requirements, including e.g. the expanded definition of controversial sources, international conventions on worker’s rights and labour contracts, or collective bargaining agreements, are accurately verified.
In line to our commitment to gender responsive standards, certification bodies now need to consider gender equity within the personnel involved in the certification activities. There are also additional requirements for reviewers and certification decision makers, as well as clearer instruction on the procedure to add sites to an existing multi-site between audits.
In order to reinforce consistency of the implementation of the PEFC chain of custody worldwide, certificates now include the products covered by the chain of custody, according to the PEFC product categories. PEFC is currently revising the PEFC product categories to align them with commonly used product categories.