PEFC has launched a process that aims to develop a system for including social issues into the PEFC chain of custody system.
A draft proposal for an amendment to the existing PEFC Chain of Custody system implies that PEFC-certified organizations must respect core ILO conventions, covering key laborer’s rights such as freedom of association, minimum age for workers, equal employment, and occupational health and safety, and the prohibition of forced labor.
A step forward
“If this is approved by PEFC, it will be a step forward for the system”, says Peter Feilberg, CEO of NEPCon. “The same issue is on FSC’s agenda and has been addressed during the past two FSC General Assemblies. It seems natural that forest certification systems should ensure at least a minimum level of social performance throughout the supply chain, so that the consumer can know that a certified product excludes for example child labor or dangerous work performed without adequate safety precautions”.
“However, it is a main weakness that PEFC has no control of the non-certified part of PEFC products and that it will be impossible to make any claims on PEFC-labeled products consisting of PEFC certified and non-certified material. The proposed requirements are only envisaged to cover PEFC certified companies.
The PEFC system for avoidance of controversial wood does not ensure traceability back to the forest of origin, so it is hard to see how social requirements could be consistently built into the entire PEFC product supply chain”.
Feilberg adds: “Even with these limitations, the move is clearly positive and it will be interesting to see how this develops. After adopting a final set of social requirements, the next step for PEFC will be to develop guidance for demonstrating compliance. Of course this will also be crucial for the actual value of the proposed requirements”.
Join the process
PEFC is inviting all stakeholders to join the process by commenting on the draft proposal. A user-friendly online commenting form is available for this purpose.
Source: PEFC press release