How do I apply for RSPO certification? A step-by-step approach

When you want to become RSPO certified, you want to achieve the certification in timely manner, avoiding any challenges around a lack of knowledge, non-conformities or reworking during the process. Or in other words: a right first time certification is what you’re looking for. To help you with this, we’ve defined the RSPO certification process step-by-step in this blog, to make sure you know what to expect and to be well-prepared to ensure a smooth application process.

What is the RSPO certification?

Before we dive into the certification process, it’s good to elaborate a bit more about RSPO and the certification
Palm oil is among the world’s most consumed food ingredients and is utilised in about half of all packaged food products. For companies to claim that their final product comes from a sustainable palm oil source, they must comply with the RSPO certification. The standard protects and minimizes the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions. The RSPO certification consists of a set of criteria that companies need to apply.

The biggest challenges to become RSPO certified

From working with many companies, we’ve experienced that there are a few common challenges organizations experience when they apply for the RSPO certification and why it is important to find the right partner to become RSPO certified. 
  1. Not getting the certification in time for business success, is generally related to meeting your buyers time commitment, and having all processes, procedures prepared in time for the audit. If its not on time for the audit, the process to become RSPO certified will not proceed, which will have an impact on receiving the certification in time to do business.
  2. Not understanding what is required before moving forward with the RSPO certification may lead to you receiving non-conformities as part of your application.
  3. It is important to choose a suitable supply chain model for your company from the various recognize RSPO supply chain model. The different supply chain models are; mass balance, segregated and identity preserved.
  4. There may be challenges related to the periodic reporting volume while implementing the mass balance supply chain model. This consists of sustainable palm oil from certified sources that are mixed with ordinary palm oil throughout the supply chain.
However, for every challenge there’s a solution and being aware of how the RSPO certification process will run will help greatly.

The process for applying for the RSPO certification

Companies sometimes think you simply purchase a certificate to become RSPO certified. This is not the case, as the RSPO certification process consistent of some steps you need to follow. Before you start with the RSPO certification process, it would beneficial to arrange a pre-audit consultancy to become RSPO certified. During this pre-audit consultancy you can ask questions help you understand the whole process correctly. After this, you can start with the actual certification process.

Step 1: Request RSPO certification

Depending on the certification body, requesting a RSPO certification is done in different ways (e.g. online application form, email, phone call etc.). Once you have requested the certification, you will receive a formal RSPO Application Form which can be used to request the company’s offer and will define the type of certification, RSPO certification status, additional information on certification transfers and client declaration. Based on the input of the form we can find out what is required and can send you a tailor-made offer.

Step 2: Receive the offer letter within 5 business days

Once the certification body received your application form, they will send you an offer based on your requirements. The offer letter indicates the price, scope and conditions of your certification process. When you will receive your offer letter will depend per certification body and how many working days they need to proceed your request.

Step 3: Get your audit plan

If you agree on the offer letter, you can sign and return this to the company. An auditor will then contact you about setting a date for your audit and will send you the agenda and audit plan to help you in preparing the audit. During the audit, the auditor will seek your compliance with the RSPO standard and provides the findings in an audit report.

Step 4: Review your audit results

Because of the four-eyes principle, the audit results will be reviewed by a second person — the certifier — who will decide whether the RSPO certification will be granted. If corrective actions are addressed to you, a timeframe will be provided for closing them.

Step 5: Achieve your certification

After a positive certification decision, you will be granted a certificate of compliance. The RSPO certificate is issued with a validity of five years. After that time, the license must be renewed and thus an annual audit is required to start the renewal process.

Once you have completed all the steps, you will achieve your RSPO certification and you’re ready to go.

Hopefully, this blog gives you more insights in the RSPO certification process and what’s needed to ensure a right first time certification. Looking to become RSPO certified? You can request your certification here.
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