INCONSISTENT PRACTICES PROCESS

Transparency and the ability to share concerns about issues with any of the SFI standards is important for continual improvement and ensuring the legitimacy of certification standards.

PUBLIC INQUIRIES REGARDING INCONSISTENT PRACTICES

A process that openly investigates concerns and official complaints is an important component of any legitimate certification program. The transparency requirements of the SFI 2022 Standards and Rules and supporting documents allow individuals and organizations to bring forward questions and concerns.

The “Public Inquiries Regarding Inconsistent Practices” process is used for general inquiries from the public and to promptly review and apply corrective actions, if warranted, in situations where deficiencies in implementing the requirements of the SFI Forest Management, Fiber Sourcing, Chain-of-Custody, or SFI Certified Sourcing Standards may have occurred.

Inquiries that involve multiple or systemic instances of alleged nonconformity that challenge the validity of a certification are addressed using the process outlined in Official Complaints Questioning the Validity of a Certification.

INCONSISTENT PRACTICES PROCESS

Any party with information or claims about a SFI-certified organization’s individual practices that may be in nonconformity with the SFI Forest Management Standard or the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard may seek to have those claims investigated.

The complainant shall present specific claims of inconsistent practices in writing and in sufficient detail to the SFI-certified organization. Within 45 days of receipt of the complaint, the SFI-certified organization shall respond to the complainant and forward a copy of the complaint and its response to the certification body for review via surveillance or recertification audit. The certification body then investigates the validity of the complaint, as well as the SFI-certified organization’s response and resolution of the claim, during the next scheduled surveillance or recertification audit.

If the complainant feels the issue has not been satisfactorily resolved, they may provide the original documentation and the response from the SFI-certified organization to the appropriate SFI Implementation Committee Inconsistent Practices Program, which shall investigate and respond to the allegations within 45 days. The SFI Implementation Committee shall provide copies of its findings and any recommended actions to both the SFI-certified organization and the complainant. The SFI-certified organization shall forward the results of the SFI Implementation Committee investigation to its certification body.

In the event litigation is involved between the complainant and SFI-certified organization, the inconsistent practices process shall be suspended pending resolution of the litigation. It shall be restarted following resolution of the litigation if SFI nonconformity issues remain.