features
#027 / 2000

Chain of custody

workshop rules

Eco-certification requires safeguards and "rules" known as chain of custody (COC). COC procedures create a paper trail from the forest to the end-consumer, ensuring that certified wood materials are kept separate from non-certified. Manufacturers may wonder if the bureaucratic procedures are worth the effort to offer furniture made from responsibly harvested timber.

Business partners Grant Wyllychuk and Dave Soothill of Vancouver's Ornamentum Furniture believe that accreditation makes sense both economically and enviromentally in the furniture manufacturing business. The cost of COC certification for a small operation is less than $2,000 and subsidies are available where warranted. Wyllychuk told VCR (now furniturelink) that for their company the additional cost of eco-certified wood and COC record-keeping amounts to four or five per cent of their wholesale cost and believes this will soon decrease as the volume of eco-certified wood increases.

To maintain their COC accreditation Ornamentum Furniture is required to store their raw materials in distinct racks and make entries in a journal similar to double-entry bookkeeping. Each purchase order for certified wood is entered in the first column under "ordered material" and recorded in the "certified inputs" column on delivery to the workshop. As the wood is used, the approriate volume is debited and credited to the various columns (including one for "waste"), ending with a "final products sold" column.

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Chain of custody for the Ornamentum Furniture Douglas-fir table top (left)

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Lumber
Rod Blake's woodlot (right)

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Conversion
Spokin Mountain Timber

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Kilning
Zirnhelt Brothers

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Manufacture
Ornamentum Furniture

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Delivery
to retailer or customer

This tracking can be done manually or with a software program. Wyllychuk says it takes only a few minutes of his day and provides valuable information about their timber usage which enables them to increase workshop efficiency and also obtain accurate data for billing purposes.

A first for BC

Ornamentum Furniture expects to be the first manufacturer in BC to produce furniture locally using timber harvested from a BC forest certified by the internationally recognized Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) through Silva Forest Foundation (SFF).

Ornamentum Furniture already uses timber from Rod Blake's woodlot near 100 Mile House, BC, which was awarded SFF eco-certification in March 1999. This means that when SFF is granted certification from FSC, all Blake's timber will automatically become FSC certified at that time.

When the woodlot is certified, Ornamentum Furniture will acquire full certification as they were granted chain-of-custody accreditation in January 2000 through SFF/FSC. Ornamentum Furniture will then be allowed to display the coveted FSC logo on products made from Blake's timber.

update: Ornamentum Furniture has closed.

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© furniturelink 1999 (text and images)