On January 1, 2016, Quality Austria as an accredited Certification Body awarded the international label for sustainable timber management, FSC® CoC (Forest Stewardship Council® Chain of Custody), to the Schweighofer Group. This company group, which is leading in wood processing industry and has seven production companies and two trading companies in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Rumania, has been certified successfully. Thus compliance with comprehensive FSC® CoC Standards has been acknowledged. Internal rules go beyond the requirements of the FSC Controlled Wood Standard.
At the Schweighofer Group, Quality Austria conducted FSC CoC certification on all locations of the company group in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Rumania. “In this process, the company group has been reviewed in terms of several FSC CoC Standards carefully,” says Axel Dick, who is responsible for the field of Business Development, Environment and Energy at Quality Austria, about the audit conducted at Schweighofer. On different locations in Rumania, traceability of receipt of goods was checked. When doing so, the federal “wood tracking system”, which had been established in 2014, was considered just as well. At the Certification Audit, the following was stated in the field of controlled wood: Internal rules that go beyond the requirements of the FSC Controlled Wood Standard are implemented.
The fact that Schweighofer has decided to go for stronger internal rules and checks helps Schweighofer to set a clear signal against the use of illegal wood within the company. Handing over of the Certificate by Quality Austria meant that compliance with the FSC CoC Standard could be acknowledged officially. Continual conformity to the requirements is being reviewed periodically. As Dick Axel explains, “Besides the intensive evaluation of the suppliers, the FSC CoC Standard specifies an internal and external Surveillance Audit to be conducted every year. Thanks to this, permanent inspection can be guaranteed while considering any changes of the structures, responsibilities or processes and procedures.” After five years, there will be a comprehensive Re-Certification Audiit, which decides whether the FSC CoC Certificate can be used.
Advantages yielded by FSC CoC certification
Companies operating in wood, paper, printing and packaging industries use the FSC CoC Certificate to guarantee that wood comes from forests managed sustainably. Furthermore, FSC CoC provides companies with a simple management tool to operate sustainably and communicate this credibly. Acc. to Axel Dick, certifications are possible in two different areas: “The non-profit Forest Stewardship Council®, which is based in Bonn, offers certification programmes worldwide – FSC Forest Management (FM) for sustainable forest management and FSC CoC for the processing chain. Quality Austria is accredited for FSC CoC and has issued more than 70 Certificates according to this Standard up to now.” Quality Austria, for its part, is monitored in the course of Office and Witness Audits, which are conducted by ASI (Accreditation Services International) every year. The certification procedure according to FSC is aimed at helping to create ecologically compatible, socially compatible and economically viable forest management and to enable companies to market wood products produced in an ecologically and socially correct manner.
Prerequisites for FSC CoC certification
In order to obtain certification of the processing chain of wood, companies need to meet important requirements. There must be a documented control system, which is, among other things, based upon sustainable corporate policy and clearly defines responsibilities.
Furthermore, it also is necessary to evaluate suppliers and acquire goods received in detail in advance. As for acceptance of wood, it is required to ensure that certified and non-certified amounts are identified and to guarantee traceability even in the internal value added chain, at any time. Besides safe identification and labelling of certified products, identification and documentation of certified outgoing goods need to be guaranteed all the way through. Moreover, it is required to make a continual balance of the amounts of certified goods that are purchased and sold.
Certified companies will be published in the FSC Database while stating the product groups and species of wood as well as the system for balancing the amounts. Besides the FSC requirements, the respective national requirements will have to be taken into account.
- In Rumania, a contribution to traceability of the supply chain is made by the “wood tracking system”, which was established by the Federal Government in 2014. By means of this system, the Rumanian legislator requires traceability down to the forest stand.
- The FSC-STD-40-004 Standard describes the fundamental requirements relating to certification. A FSC CoC Certificate is a product certification and is aimed at guaranteeing traceability of wood and paper products down to sustainable forest management. This means that the value added chain (chain of custody) is traceable from the forest to the product. The period of validity of the Certificate amounts to five years. In this respect, it should be noted that the accredited Certification Body will, after initial certification, also conduct an annual Surveillance Audit.
- The FSC-STD-40-005 Standard defines the special requirements placed on controlled wood, among other things those for the conduct of risk assessments at the evaluation of suppliers.
- The FSC-STD-40-003 Standard describes the special requirements relating to multiple-site certification (central Headquarters and several branch offices with similar products and processes).
- Quality Austria has been accredited for FSC CoC by being granted the Accreditation Number FSC-ACC-043 since January 29, 2015. Up to now, Quality Austria has issued more than 70 FSC CoC Certificates.