Chain-of-Custody (CoC) is the process of following materials through each step of the supply chain in order to verify appropriate management, quality control, and safety. Along the supply chain, materials go through various stages of production, processing, shipping, and retail. CoC systems are made up of a series of procedures, technologies, and documents that track materials within each processing stage, as well as between each stage as they are transported. The systems are important for ensuring that materials are obtained and processed legally, as well as for monitoring the transparency and integrity of claims about sustainable practices in the supply chain. The CoC process also provides valuable information to improve organizational, economic, and logistical efficiency across the supply chain. This information is useful for product suppliers and traders; companies and public-sector agencies who want to buy legally produced, low-impact materials; industry regulators and enforcement agencies; and certifiers and inspection companies.
CoC systems are used by many industries around the world. In the lumber industry, CoC processes are specified by industry certifiers like FSC and SFI. They allow managers of supply chains to trace wood products directly back to their source, which facilitates forest management. They also provide information about species, volumes, and quality grades. Certification by one of these organizations means that the final wood product complies with environmental standards at each step along the supply chain.