Technical Updates

Wednesday, 01 September 2010
New Group CoC Eligibility for US

At the 2008 General Assembly, Policy Motion 12 was approved requiring FSC to research and develop a process that allows Group CoC eligibility criteria to be adapted to regional socio-economic conditions. During 2009, FSC-US conducted a pilot study in which research and stakeholder consultation was carried out in order to define ‘small’ businesses in the context of the US economy that should be eligible for group CoC certification.

On August 17th 2010, the FSC Policy and Standards Unit of FSC International confirmed that the Group CoC eligibility requirements for the US have been approved. As a result, FSC Group CoC certificate programs are now available to any small business with annual forest product sales less than $5,000,000, regardless of the number of employees. Note that the new CoC eligibility requirements include a transitional phase. Transitional membership in a group certificate is allowed until the threshold is exceeded for two consecutive years. At that time, the individual entity is no longer eligible to be part of the group certificate and shall pursue and transition to an independent certificate in order to continue in the FSC CoC program. New group members must fall under the threshold before joining or creating a Group CoC certificate.

In order to expand this approach to other countries, FSC is inviting FSC Working Groups and National Offices worldwide to carry out national studies (similar to FSC-US’), according to the new procedure described in FSC-PRO-40-002. Newly approved eligibility criteria will be published in the addendum FSC-PRO-40-002a.

The Group CoC Policy was originally created to allow small companies to be part of the FSC CoC certification system without bearing the full costs of maintaining a FSC CoC certificate. The primary objective is to create an affordable program that allows companies to prepare for and test the market for FSC-certified products. Small companies find many benefits in being part of a group. In addition to the cost savings, Group CoC programs often provide templates and tools to assist companies to become FSC certified, and can provide expert guidance and engage in coordinated market development efforts. For FSC, Group CoC programs expose a larger numbers of producers, employees and consumers to the FSC brand.