Chain-of-Custody Certification

Lead Author: Dr. Jeff Howe

Publish date: 05.20.2005

What is It, Why do it, and How?


Most certification systems are designed to operate as market-based incentive programs that hope to attract customers by communicating something about production processes or the origins of the raw materials in the certified product. Whether it is food produced without synthetic chemicals or paper from recycled fiber, eco-labels try to tell a story. A critical role of certification systems is to assure customers that the story is true. The verification of the story is the role of the chain-of-custody (COC) certification process. This process, its basic components, and its benefits are the topics addressed in this paper.