Chain of Custody

Chain of Custody (CoC) is the means of tracing a paper product up through the supply chain back to where the fibre originated. It includes all the operations that take physical or legal ownership of the paper or physically alter it (with the exception of retailers and the end user).
This means that in practice, a certified product can be tracked through every link in the chain, so that buyers can be guaranteed that fibre originated from a forest (or recycling plant) managed according to the rules of the certification scheme.
In order for printers to get CoC, an independent assessor will visit and check the printer’s ability to prevent certified paper becoming mixed up with unapproved material. They will want to look at documentation and records relating to certified material bought and sold and will also examine the handling of incoming material, how it is processed and how it is dispatched. In particular, they will be investigating ‘critical control points’ where there is the greatest risk of material becoming mixed. Annual audits are required.

Who needs Chain of Custody?

Anyone that wants to sell on a product as certified needs to have CoC certification for the relevant scheme with the exception of retailers. Therefore, any printer buying certified paper needs to be CoC certified.

The end-user organisation does not normally need CoC. However, where the end-user purchases the paper directly, rather than just purchasing the finished print job, they will need CoC and have a system in place for controlling their printers to ensure certified material is used. Such a system can also apply to publishers that buy their own material.

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