Technical Updates


Tuesday, July 01.2003
Percentage-Based Claims Policy Review

Proposed Revisions for Sawmills


On May 28th-29th, a cross-section of stakeholders, including FSC National Initiatives, Certification Bodies, NGO’s, forest product manufacturers and forest managers, came together at FSC International Center (FSC-IC) in Bonn, Germany to discuss unresolved elements of the percentage based claims (PBC) review that has been ongoing since mid-2001.

The key issues discussed at the meeting included:

  •  The need to remove current bottlenecks in the supply chain, particularly for FSC-certified sawmills—this can result in the loss of a great deal of FSC-certified material because of inabilities to comply with the current PBC policy.
  •  The need to allow manufacturers to increase the recycled content in FSC-certified products—this is limited under the current PBC policy.
  • Consumer perceptions of ecolabels on timber and implications and options for FSC labeling rules.

The recommendations of the meeting were presented to the FSC International Executive Committee who endorsed a proposal to pilot test a new chain-of-custody system for sawmills based on an input/output model. This model was one of four possible options discussed by members of an FSC technical working group and other stakeholders prior to the meeting. The intent of the new approach is to make it more efficient for certified sawmills to use the FSC label on their products, and at the same time strengthen FSC’s integrity, product and market.

The revised PBC policy will also contain strong requirements on controversial sources for non FSC-certified content going into the sawmill. The Executive Committee recommended that FSC should not finalize a new standard for sawmills until the issues around the controversial sources have been adequately addressed.

Ned Daly, Vice President of Operations for FSC-US, represented the US National Initiative at this meeting. Daly stated that, “the FSC International staff and the stakeholders represented at this meeting did a fantastic job of identifying ways to improve the policy in a way that benefits FSC stakeholders across the board. It’s not an easy task and indicates how the organization is maturing. Instead of 'How can I make the system work for me?’ the participants focused on increasing the integrity of the FSC label."

The next steps in the process for making these recommended changes into an adopted policy are:

1. Pilot test the new approach for sawmills based on a draft standard, currently under development;

2. Pilot test draft 4.0 FSC standard for chip and fiber materials and products (draft 3.0 has been under consultation since March 2003);

3. Seek partners for work on framing a policy on controversial sources; and,

4. Create a technical group to develop options for chain-of-custody for assembled products.

“By pilot testing the new system, FSC will collaborate with manufacturers, FSC accredited certification bodies and others in the development and testing of the new FSC standards" said Sofia Ryder, FSC Policy Officer. “Companies who wish to participate in the pilot-testing phase will benefit from gaining experience in the implementation of new systems, and will receive early access to use of the FSC trademarks." FSC is now developing the procedures for pilot testing the new approach and will put out a call for applicants in early July. If any sawmills are interested in participating in the pilot-test of this new PBC policy, please contact Ned Daly at: [url=mailto:ndaly@fscus.org]ndaly@fscus.org[/url].

FSC-IC will delay finalizing the new chain-of-custody standards until it has received feedback from the pilot testing and clarification of controversial sources. Upon approval, the new standards will be phased in over a two-year period.

For background documents on the PBC review process, please go to www.fscoax.org and click on “Policy and Standards."