A process that openly investigates concerns and official complaints is an important component of any legitimate certification program. The transparency requirements of the SFI 2015-2019 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 or Chain-of-Custody 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 Program Participant’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 Program Participant. Within 45 days of receipt of the complaint, the Program Participant 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 Program Participant’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 Program Participant 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 Program Participant and the complainant. The Program Participant shall forward the results of the SFI Implementation Committee investigation to its certification body.
In the event litigation is involved between the complainant and Program Participant, 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.