FAQ

Please find below FAQs to following subjects


General Features about For Life and Fair for Life

What is the difference between Fair for Life and For Life?
Fair for Life (FFL) and For Life (FL) are two complementary standards sharing a common ground:

Still, each programme has its own specific identity and focus:


What is the history of the FL & FFL programmes?

The first version of the FFL programme was developed in 2006 by the Swiss Bio-Foundation in cooperation with the IMO Group. Since then, the FFL programme has undergone regular revisions (2010, 2013) and has changed ownership:
1) In 2013 / 2014 the IMO Group becomes part of the ECOCERT Group.
2) In 2014, the Swiss Bio-Foundation hands over ownership of the FFL programme to the ECOCERT Group.

In 2016, a particularly important revision of the programme has been carried out. One of the major outputs of this last revision is that the “Fair for Life Social and Fair Trade Certification Programme” has been divided into two separate standards:

The final versions of these two standards have been published in February 2017, and will come into force from July 2017 onwards. For more information about this revision and about the transition modalities, please refer to the last section of this FAQ and the revision section.


What are the activity sectors covered by FL/FFL?
The FFL and FL programmes cover a variety of sectors / products. Therefore, your entire assortment of raw materials and products, although diverse, may be eligible for certification.
While the Fair for Life standard allows for certification of products, the For Life standard is intended mainly for company certification. In both cases, applicants must be involved in the production, processing or trade of:
1) natural products (from agriculture, wild collection, aquaculture, livestock, beekeeping, etc.)
2) handicrafts.

Product certification is available for a wide range of products coming from the abovementioned sectors (like oils, herbs, spices, fruit and vegetables, cotton, honey, etc.). The following finished product groups can be certified:

Note that some restrictions and additional conditions may apply to some specific sectors (industrial textile, aquaculture, etc.). Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information at info@fairforlife.org


What is FL/FFL's position with regards to organic farming?
You do not need to be certified organic to apply for FL/FFL certification. However, transition to organic farming is strongly encouraged, in order to be healthier and safer for both the people working on the farm and the consumers, and to limit the pollution of the environment by chemicals.

As a consequence:
1) If you are not organic certified, additional requirements apply, particularly if you are involved in crop production / wild collection: clear ecological targets must be set in order to reduce your impacts on the environment and on human health; criteria for additional good agricultural practices are required; progress towards more organic production practices is encouraged.
2) On the contrary, if you are already organic certified, it will be easier to respect the standards, and to add certain certification requirements to your existing procedures (e.g. Internal Control System, product flow management, etc.).



About Fair Trade and Fair for Life

What does FFL stand for?
FFL stands for "Fair for Life". Fair for Life is a certification programme for Fair Trade and Responsible Supply Chains.
Companies and organizations certified according to the Fair for Life programme:
1. Commit to FAIRNESS by orienting the business model to fair practices based on a fair pricing policy and a respectful dialogue with its suppliers.
2. Respect HUMAN RIGHTS and offer DECENT WORKING CONDITIONS to improve the living conditions and well-being of workers and their families.
3. Respect the ENVIRONMENT, BIODIVERSITY and CLIMATE by taking responsibility for one’s environmental impacts and progressively implementing sustainable agricultural practices encouraging conversion to organic farming.
4. Act for sustainable LOCAL DEVELOPMENT through collectively identifying challenges and creating development projects adapted to local contexts.
5. Strengthen SOUND BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS through a progressive approach with economic partnerships that improve the structure and durability of supply chains.
6. Provide producers and workers with democratic representation and collective bargaining capacity to develop their economic opportunities.
7. Enable INFORMED PURCHASE DECISIONS through transparent communication which guarantees consumers physical traceability of certified ingredients.


Why was FFL created?
In the early 2000s, there were very limited certification options for fair trade. The genesis of Fair for Life was in 2005 in response to an explicit request from a handful of relatively small, but dedicated companies and their supply-chains. Their request was to design a Fair Trade certification program that would work independently of the traditional Fair Trade system to highlight and support sincere and committed actors who work closely with their trade partners and producers. This new certification programme created an opportunity for previously excluded products and serious fair trade producers to be eligible to participate in fair trade certification.


What are the main characteristics of FFL?
The Fair for Life programme is a flexible but stringent and transparent scheme.
The programme is unique because it focuses on what is essential: control of good practices along the supply-chains, accountability for each FFL certified operation to act sustainably, to strengthen business relationships between suppliers and buyers, to support tailored development projects for producers and workers, and to communicate the sincerity and authenticity of their actions to their customers and stakeholders.

It has several advantages.


Where can I find FFL products sold?
North America and European markets are major and growing markets for Fair Trade. In the beginning, the Fair for Life programme was adopted by pioneer companies and brands who worked to open the retailing markets and to promote FFL values towards consumers. With time, Fair for Life has become a well-known and fast-growing segment of ethical and fair markets.

Today, more than 3000 FFL certified products are present on the shelves of mainstream retailers as well as specialized organic retailing networks, within the top 5 major markets for fair trade: USA, France, Germany, UK, and Netherlands.
You can also find FFL certified products on the shelves in Canada, Chile, Colombia, Japan, Sweden, Norway, South Africa, and Switzerland.


Does FFL recognize other Fair Trade standards?

Yes. FFL is an inclusive certification programme, adopting a recognition approach towards certain other existing Fair Trade certification schemes. Recognition is possible for schemes covering the same fundamental principles as FFL and with comparable control measures applied.
The list of other FT schemes recognized under FFL scheme are:
Acceptance of ingredients certified according to the above Fair Trade certifications schemes follows a specific procedure available on the Annex IV of the FFL standard.


Do I have to pay trademark fees for the use of the FFL label?
No. The use of the FFL label is free of charge for certified operations. You pay only the costs of audit and certification.
Please note that all logo use must be approved by the Certification Body prior to printing or publication.


How does Fair for Life labelling work?
There are two labelling categories in Fair for Life, depending on the Fair Trade content:
1) Products containing a high content of fair trade ingredients (e.g. for food: at least 80% of all agricultural ingredients) can use the FFL seal on the principal display panel and can be labelled as 'Fair trade'.
2) Products containing a lower content of fair trade ingredients (e.g. for food: between 20 and 80% of all agricultural ingredients) can normally not use the FFL seal on the principal display panel and must be labelled as 'Made with fair trade ingredients'. Specific exemption can be granted for products containing a majority of fair trade ingredients.
Please refer to the Annex I of the FFL standard to have the exact composition rules (minimum thresholds for food, cosmetics, etc.), and to the Annex II of the FFL standard to read more about the exact labelling rules.


Can FFL also apply to products from more developed countries located in the Global "North" like France or the USA?
Yes. Producers and workers in all countries may be eligible for FFL certification.

While it is true that Fair trade is traditionally associated with small-holders in developing « South » countries exporting to the Global « North », we believe that fairness has no borders. Indeed, even in the so-called “developed countries”:

Therefore, Fair for Life promotes an approach of Fair Trade that allows all producers and workers who are at a socio-economic disadvantage, wherever they live and work, to access a wider range of social and economic benefits.


Are the same rules applicable for a Fair Trade cooperative in Canada as those for a Fair Trade cooperative in Uganda?
The same general FFL approach is applied, no matter the geographically location of the production country. However, in countries where high social protection is offered to workers, some requirements may be slightly adapted:


How are Fair for Life prices negotiated and calculated?
There are two elements of Fair Trade pricing in FFL. All prices are negotiated and agreed between Producer Operations and their Fair Trade Partners, following the rules set out in the standard and as summarized below:
The Fair Trade Sales Prices is expected to be above the conventional market prices (+ 5 or +10%).
Please note that in addition to the Fair Trade Sales Price, the Fair Trade Partner shall pay an additional Fair Trade Fund.


What is the Fair Trade Development Fund and how is it calculated?
The Fair Trade Development Fund, or 'Fair Trade Fund', refers to the extra amount paid to the Producer operation in addition to the Sales Price for all Fair Trade products purchased. The use of the Fair Trade Fund is strictly confined to collectively agreed-upon projects by the beneficiaries.
The amount of the Fair Trade Fund is equal or superior to:
However, lower percentages for the Premium Fund can be accepted upon detailed justification in certain cases, depending on the context (high prices / volumes, consideration of direct technical support, very good socio-economic context, etc.). These conditions are detailed in Annex VI of the FFL programme.


About CSR and For Life

What does FL stand for?
FL stands for "For Life". For Life is a certification programme for Corporate Social Responsibility.
For Life certifies companies and organizations who:
1. Commit to CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY by orienting the business model to responsible practices.
2. Respect HUMAN RIGHTS and offer decent WORKING CONDITIONS to improve the well-being of workers.
3. Respect the ENVIRONMENT, BIODIVERSITY and CLIMATE by taking responsibility for one’s environmental impacts and progressively implementing sustainable production methods.
4. Act for sustainable LOCAL DEVELOPMENT through creating local jobs and developing the local anchorage of the company.
5. Integrate RESPONSIBLE and ETHICAL SOURCING practices based on a respectful dialogue with its suppliers and work with partners who favor responsible social and environmental practices.
6. Support REPRESENTATION and PARTICIPATION mechanism in producer operations to promote democratic values.


What is the difference between Fair Trade, CSR and Responsible Sourcing?
Both Fair Trade and CSR share a common ground: orienting one's business model towards more responsible practices.
Responsible sourcing is part of the CSR policy of a company, and aims at implementing more responsible practices towards its supplier.
Fair Trade goes beyond responsible sourcing as Fair Trade is about sharing values to build responsible supply-chains through long-term partnerships, fair pricing, funding of collective projects decided by the producers or workers, etc. Each key player of a Fair Trade supply chain is responsible for ensuring fairness and a fair deal from Consumer to Producer.


Can I label For Life products?
For Life is normally not intended for product certification. However, under specific conditions (in particular, the whole supply-chain has to be controlled), the final consumer product can be labelled as “For Life”. This is only permitted for products containing a very high content of certified “social responsibility” ingredients (more than 80%). Please refer to Annex I & II of the For Life standard to learn more about this possibility.


About the FL, FFL and ESR revision and the transition to the 2017 version

Why was this revision unique?
This revision was unique in several aspects:


What are the advantages of the revised programmes?
We bring together the best practices of the 2 former standards (FFL and ESR), enriched and strengthened thanks to the feedback from different stakeholders gathered during the one-year consultation period. The new versions of the FL & FFL standards address what is really essential in the fields of Corporate Social Responsibility and Fair Trade. The standards were restructured to be universally applicable wherever your setting and location are. These new versions are more pragmatic, more accessible and bring more flexibility.


What are the main differences with the previous version?
We will communicate the main changes in a summary early May 2017 where you can identify the changes for your operation. Essentially, there are now two separate standards, FFL and FL, but they still share a common ground.
The structure is no longer modular but transversal sections that apply to all types of operations. The rating and performance systems were also reviewed for more clarity and easier implementation.
An overview of the main changes will be displayed on the website in May 2017.


When will the revised versions be applicable for my operation?
The revised FFL & FL standards were published in mid-February 2017 but will be implemented in the second semester of 2017 from the 1st of July onwards:


If I'm already certified, is my certificate going to lose its validity?
No, current valid certificates remain valid. Your transition from the previous certification system to the new one will be done smoothly through a transition period, provided that you continue to comply with the current requirements. You will benefit from a transition period of up to 2 years (3 years for some specific new requirements) to comply with the new or modified requirements of the new certification programme.


Is there going to be a transition period for certified operators?
Existing FFL and FL operations will benefit from a transition period of up to 2 years (3 years for some specific new requirements) so that they can become familiar with the revised requirements and therefore work on their compliance in a progressive way.
In May 2017, further information on the details about this transition period and the overall transition plan will be communicated.


Will there be training support on the revised FFL standard offered?

Before the implementation of the revised standard, online trainings will be offered through an E-training platform.
More details regarding the training and transition plans, will be communicated no later than May 2017.


What happens if I do not comply with some revised requirements?
If you do not comply with some revised requirements, the application of the transition plan will enable you to become familiar with the changes and comply with the revised requirements through a smooth process.


What if I do not have organic certification?
The new standards do not require organic certification but encourages it by a by a combination of MUST and BONUS criteria. If you are involved in crop production / wild collection, you will have to demonstrate progress towards more organic production.


About Fair for Life and For Life certification

How much does the certification cost?
Certification costs vary depending on the size and complexity of your operation/ supply chain, which certification(s) you apply for, the location of your operation and of producers (the local costs and travel time), and whether or not you are already certified organic or have another certification. If you are already certified organic by Ecocert or IMO, it reduces the cost of fair trade certification, as the audits can normally be combined.
However, the cost for each certification is calculated based on multiple factors, so in order to get an exact offer, you need to provide us with as much details as possible by sending the relevant application form. An offer will be prepared after review of your details. You will then be asked to confirm your application and approve the estimated costs by signing the offer and the certification contract.
If you don't know your local representative of Fair for Life in your country / region, please kindly send an email to info@fairforlife.org and we will redirect you to the most suitable contact person.



How long does it take to get certified?
According to the maturity of your project, the state of your preparing and proactivity to solve your deviations, it usually takes an average of 3 months between your first request and the issuance of your certificate.



Where can I find a local representative of Fair for Life in my country / region?
Please send an email to info@fairforlife.org and we will redirect you to the most suitable contact person depending on your location.



Where can I find FFL / FL suppliers or clients?
A list of currently certified operations and a list of all products certified are available on the Fair for Life certified operators page on our website.



How are the FL and FFL supply-chains verified?
In order to have a finished product certified and sold to the final consumer, the programmes:

More details are given in a separate “certification process” document. Please note for FL, this only pertains to product certification.



What do the points for each of the requirements mean?
Each requirement describes the norm for good practice (rating = 2), and is evaluated on a scale that can range from 0 to 4 points:


Detailed information to understand the certification requirements and the rating system are included in the separate document, “Fair for Life Certification Process”



What happens if I do not comply with the KO criteria? Will I immediately lose my certificate?
If not met (for serious non-compliances), these KO criteria jeopardize the certificate with immediate effect.


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