In Germany more and more calls for an overall sustainability textile standard can be heard. Whereas the International Association of Natural Textile Industry (IVN), one of the four founding members of the GOTS international working group, considers this unnecessary. "The Fashion Industry doesn't need a new Ecolabel for environmental and social responsible production - we already have one: GOTS" Heike Scheuer, IVN Head Office, countered on the newest statements of H&M's chief executive officers Karl Johan-Persson, who claimed another worldwide label for fashion in an Interview with the big German Magazine "Der Spiegel". "In Germany and Europe GOTS has long proved its applicability despite its high demands. Even large retail companies like Aldi, Rewe, dm-drugstore chain or C&A have GOTS certified products in their selections" Heike Scheuer continues. In the view of the IVN the claim for a new label is simply obsolete because even today consumers are facing and impenetrable "Label jungle". Instead of that the big retailers and brands as well as policymakers should support and strengthen existing relevant standards. In the policy memorandum of the USDA from 2011, where GOTS was confirmed as organic standard the government of the USA set a good example.
In July 2013, GOTS and China National Textile and Apparel Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding as an official milestone to mark collaboration between two organizations. CNTAC is composed of enterprises, companies, buyers, retailers and other interested parties within the entire textile supply chain, and a crucial part of the organization’s work aims at utilizing resources and strengths of multi-stakeholders to promote CSR related ideas and concepts and assisting businesses in raising CSR awareness and improving management practice. GOTS, on the other hand, represents the stringent voluntary global standard for the entire post-harvest production processing of apparel and home textiles made with organic fiber. The synergies of improving the Chinese textile and apparel supply chain towards the ecological and ethical direction has made the alliance possible. Concretely, the agreement includes workshops, trainings, and research works as tools to achieve business awareness in China, as well as providing an effective educational platform for Chinese companies who seek fair information regarding organic textiles and production. On August 28th-29th 2013, the Annual Conference on Social Responsibility of Chinese Textile and Apparel Industry which will be held in Beijing, in the Great Hall of the People. Mr. Herbert Ladwig, the Managing Director of GOTS, is invited as a panelist to speak on Textile Value Chain and ecological progress. Dibella, awarded "Future Shaper" on the Textile Exchange conference in October 2012, is sponsoring 500 GOTS certified towels for the conference. The towels will be presented to the conference participants to demonstrate the outstanding quality of this GOTS certified product. Since 1986 the Dibella group of companies has specialized in textile goods for restaurants and healthcare.
The EU Commission (DG Agriculture) is in the final stages of a comprehensive review of the EU organic regulation looking at four key issues:
∗ Simplifying the legal framework, whilst ensuring standards are not watered down;
∗ Co-existence of GM crops with organic farming;
∗ Better control systems and trade arrangements for organic products;
∗ Impact of labelling rules.
Organic textiles are not currently included in the EU organic regulation, which cover organic food and farming in Europe. This means that the use of the term ‘organic’ is not controlled in the European market, so there are inappropriate and inaccurate claims made resulting in consumer confusion and the risk of greenwash.
DG Agri has concluded that the legal basis of the organic regulation should not be extended to cover products such as textiles and cosmetics, stating that “organic farming should remain focused on agriculture since it is a crucial instrument to deliver environmental services and boost development, innovation and employment in rural areas.” This leaves a significant gap in the organic legal framework.
Organic textiles are an important part of the overall organic market. They provide an opportunity to improve sustainability with a global reach. Making sure that the organic label is based on robust standards and verification will help provide confidence to consumers and build the organic textiles market. The EU Commission’s DG Enterprise and Industry are responsible for textile labelling, and a recent report on the need and options to harmonise labelling has looked at the scope for recognizing GOTS as a basis for regulating organic textile labelling (as is the case in the USA). GOTS has been invited to participate the EU Expert Group on Textile Names and Labelling.
With the increased recognition and value of our logo and certification program we also face an increase in the number of trademark violations, false references to GOTS (certification) and fraudulent presentation that a company or its products are GOTS certified.
The International Working Group investigates such transgressions and is concerned to take appropriate actions such as corrective and/or legal action and/or publication of the transgression so as to safeguard the credibility of the GOTS program and its labelling system.
In order to avoid such implications and considering that most cases of unauthorised trademark use or false references are obviously based on lack of knowledge about (certain aspects of) the GOTS labelling system and the related certification requirements we would like to clearly state the following key features:
• Correct and complete GOTS labelling shows the trademark registered GOTS logo (or the lettering ‘Global Organic Textile Standard’), the GOTS label grade (‘organic’ or ‘made with organic’), a reference of the certification body and the license number and/or name of the certified entity (see labelling sample above).
• Only a GOTS certified entity is authorised to apply the GOTS label to a product following approval and release by their assigned GOTS certifier.
• To avoid confusion and misleading consumers the GOTS labelling conditions do not offer use of the GOTS label (or reference to GOTS certification) on the garment / final textile product if the GOTS certification is only valid for intermediates (such as yarn or fabric). A precondition for on-product label use is that the whole value chain and the final product is certified. Accordingly, claims used on textile products such as ‘this garment is made from GOTS certified cotton or yarn or fabric’ are self-claims of the seller and are neither verified nor allowed in the GOTS certification process.
• B2B traders (Wholesalers) (= traders that sell to other businesses such as importers, exporters, -retailers) must participate in the inspection and certification program before final products can be labelled as GOTS certified. Traders having an annual turnover with GOTS Goods less than 5.000€ do not need to become certified but must register with an Approved Certifier
• Retailers who do not have a B2B trade activity and do not (re)pack or (re)label the GOTS Goods do not need to become certified but must assure that their seller (a trader or manufacturer) of the ready packed and labelled GOTS Goods is certified. In this case the labelling must include the license number of the certified trader or manufacturer supplying the GOTS Goods.
• The conditions also apply for identification of any GOTS Goods presented (for sale) in catalogues, on web pages or other publications (e.g. by mail order companies). In any case the user of GOTS labelling must ensure that no confusion arises between certified and non-certified products in any marking, publications and advertising.
A sheet that summarises ‘Important information for companies who sell or advertise GOTS Goods’ is available for download. Futhermore you can find information on how to get products labelled here. The complete licensing and labelling conditions including the provisions for product marking and the related design specifications are defined in the 'Licensing and Labelling Guide'.
The 1st Stakeholder Input Period (16 May-30 July) in the formal revision process to develop GOTS Version 4.0 was very productive. 200 individual contributions plus some comments on these contributions have been received by 14 organisations representing all relevant aspects of GOTS including organic production, environmental textile processing, textile chemistry and social criteria. We are thankful and delighted about the quantity and high quality of the contributions received, which demonstrates the huge interest and impact of our standard in the sector and will help to further increase its quality and feasibility. Specific topics that received extensive contributions include the criteria and assessment procedures for chemical inputs, the approach towards sustainable options for the non-organic fibre share (recycled fibres, regenerated fibres from organic/sustainable renewable sources) and on-site inspection requirements including social auditing practices.
The GOTS Technical Committee has already started to thoroughly evaluate and assess the contributions and will consult further experts as necessary to complete the 2nd Revision Draft. The 2nd Revision Draft will be published on 1 November 2013 on the revision blog together with a detailed overview document with observations on each individual contribution. This will be followed by a 2nd Stakeholder Input Period in which participants can provide final comments to the observations provided by the Technical Committee and/or to the changes made from the 1st to the 2nd draft.
GOTS Version 4.0 and the related Manual are intended to be released in March 2014.