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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 10:59

Certification of Operations

Who can apply for GOTS certification?

Textile processing, manufacturing and trading entities can apply for certification according to the Global Organic Textile Standard.
Farming projects that want to produce organic fibre cannot apply for GOTS certification but for certification to organic farming standards (s.a. the USDA NOP or the EEC 834/2007).

How can textile processing, manufacturing and/or trading entities apply for GOTS certification?

Initial request and application for GOTS certification is to be addressed to a GOTS Approved Certification Body. The Approved Certifiers are assigned with the implementation of the GOTS quality assurance system and will be able to answer individual questions related to the inspection and certification procedure.
Contact information for all GOTS approved certifiers, their local representatives, a list of countries where they currently have certified clients in as well as their accredited scopes are listed in the section 'Approved Certification Bodies'.

What is the content of inspection as basis for the GOTS certification?

Annual on-site inspection of the processor’s, manufacturer’s and trader's premises performed by independent and specially accredited certification bodies is the basis for GOTS certification. Tracing the organic fibre product flow, assessment of all inputs and accessories used, verification of the waste water treatment system as part of the environmental management, monitoring minimum social criteria and implementing risk assessment based residue policy are key elements of the inspection protocol.
The certification of traders is mainly based on the verification of their product flow documentation. The inspection protocoll includes reconciliation on purchase and sales volumes of organic textiles (mass balance calculation) and tracing back if all the purchased products with GOTS certification claim are indeed correctly certified.

What are the main requirements an entity must comply with at all facilities where GOTS products are processed?

Entities applying for GOTS certification must comply with social minimum criteria based on the key norms of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Further operators must have a written environmental policy. Depending on the processing stages performed, the policy should include procedures such as to monitor and minimise waste and discharges. They shall further have a programme for improvement. Wet processing units must keep full records of the use of chemicals, energy, water consumption and waste water treatment, including the disposal of sludge. Wastewater from all wet processing sites must be treated in an internal or external functional wastewater treatment plant before discharged to surface waters.

What is the cost of certification?

The certification cost very much depends on (number of) location(s), size and type of the entity and the range of products that are intended to be processed or traded under the scope of certification. As a rough estimation entities with one facility can expect annual certification cost in a range between 1200 and 3000 Euro. The approved Certification Bodies will be pleased to inform what data they need in order be able to provide for an individual cost offer. 

In addition to the certification cost payable to the certifier each certified entity must pay a licence fee for each calendar year. The license fee is set at 120 Euro for each facility that is inspected for the certified entity, is collected by the Approved Certifier and transferred to the International Working Group.

How can entities use their GOTS certification?

Processors and manufacturers that receive a GOTS certificate of compliance (=scope certificate) are authorised to accept orders for GOTS compliant processing / manufacturing in their certified scope. Accordingly certified im- and exporters as well as traders are authorised to trade GOTS textile products that belong to the scope of their granted certification. Entities that receive a GOTS scope certificate are free to advertise their certified status on the market. They further become listed in the GOTS public data base on this website.

Who in the supply chain must be certified as prerequisite that a final product can be GOTS certified?

In principle all operators of the processing and manufacturing chain as well as B2B traders must be GOTS certified as a prerequisite that a final product can be sold, labelled or represented as GOTS certified. Details are provided for in the section 'How to get products labelled'.

Why do traders that do not modify or add anything to the product need to become certified?

Although traders do not modify goods, they buy and sell organic / certified textile products and represent a crucial link to achieve transparency and traceability in the value chain. The certification of traders is based on the verification of their product flow documentation. The inspection protocoll includes reconciliation on purchase and sales volumes of organic textiles (mass balance calculation) and tracing back if all the purchased products with GOTS certification claim are indeed correctly certified. Without certification of the trade entities there would be no independent and gapless verification on the organic / certified product flow. Through the certification requirement for traders it can be assured that they become aware of the documentation required to verify the authenticity of GOTS certified products and so help to ensure the integrity of GOTS goods.

How can certification claims of processing, manufacturing or trading operations be verified?

The public data base available on this website contains all GOTS certified entities as reported by the Approved Certifiers. Companies claiming to be GOTS certified can further be requested to provide the corresponding GOTS certificate of compliance (=scope certificate). This certificate must be issued by one of the GOTS Approved Certifiers and show (among other information) the company's contact details and GOTS in the scope of certification. In case of doubt, if the certificate is authentic or not the actual certification status can in last instance become reconfirmed through the name and certificate number by contacting the issuing Approved Certifier.

Product Certification

How can consumers identify a correctly GOTS certified and labelled product?

Consumers should look for the on-product labelling. GOTS labelling must be applied on the product in such a way that it is visible to the consumer at the time of purchase (e.g. on the packaging and/or hangtag and/or a label).

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.
Because retailers are not necessarily obliged to become certified themselves, the labelling may show the license number and/or name of their supplier (trader, manufacturer) of the final product. Consumers can look up the data set of the certified entity by entering the license number (or name) provided on the GOTS labelling in the ‘free text field’ of our public data base.
Only this correct GOTS labelling provides the assurance for the consumer that the final product is GOTS certified.

It needs to be noted that products identified, advertised or offered for sale without this labelling but with any other references to GOTS (certification) do not indicate a correct GOTS certification of the final textile product.
The GOTS labelling conditions do not offer to use the GOTS label (or reference to GOTS certification) on the garment / final textile product if the GOTS certification is valid for intermediates (such as yarn or fabric) only. Precondition for on-product label use is that the whole value chain and the final product is certified.
Therefore claims used on textiles products such as ‘this garment is made from GOTS certified cotton or yarn or fabric’ are self-claims of the seller and are not verified and released in the GOTS certification process.

How can a commercial buyer assure that the products purchased are indeed GOTS certified?

Companies that are able to provide GOTS certified textile products have received a GOTS certificate of compliance (=scope certificate) and can be requested to provide an (electronic) copy of the same. This certificate is issued by one of the GOTS Approved Certifiers and states that the company is GOTS certified which means that it is able to process the listed products (or product categories) under GOTS certification, but it is of course not a proof that all of the company's products are GOTS certified or that specific shipments from this company are GOTS certified. In case of doubt, if the scope certificate is authentic or not the entry in the GOTS public data base of certified companies can be checked and in last instance the actual certification status can become reconfirmed through the name and certificate number by contacting the issuing Approved Certifier.
In order to assure that a specific shipment of products received by a certified supplier is GOTS certified, the supplier should be requested to provide for a 'transaction certificate' (TC), issued by the GOTS certifier of the supplier and listing the concrete products and shipment details including the buyers name and address and confirming the GOTS certification status. Commercial buyers may decide to make the issuance of TCs for each purchase of GOTS certified textile products a (contractual) condition to each supplier they want to work with in this field. In case of doubt, if a received TC is authentic or not in last instance again the issuing Approved Certifier can be requested to verify its validity.

What kind of products can become GOTS certified?

In principle any product that can be considered as a textile product is covered under the scope of GOTS. A product can only be certified and labelled (with a GOTS label grade: 'organic' or 'made with organic') as a whole. It is not possible to certify and label only a part or component of a product.

What are the product requirements with regard to fibre composition?

A minimum of 70% of the fibre material used must be certified organic, otherwise no GOTS certification of the product is possible. The product may not contain any conventional fibres of the same raw material contained in the organic portion of the same product (i.e., no blending).
The GOTS label grade ‘made with organic’ requires a minimum of 70% certified organic fibres. A maximum of 10% synthetic fibres can be used. Socks, leggings and sportswear can be made from up to 25% synthetic fibres.
The GOTS label grade ‘organic’ requires a minimum of 95% certified organic fibres.

Is it possible to use 'bamboo' in GOTS certified textiles?

For almost all bamboo fibre used in industrial textile production not the natural bamboo is used but it is melted and regenerated in a viscose / rayon process and can therefore not be considered as natural or even organic fibre, even if the bamboo plant was originally certified organic on the field. In consequence in GOTS certified textiles bamboo fibres can only be used for the tolerated remaining balance of conventional fibers. If the rayon is made from organically grown bamboo up to 30% may be used for the label grade ‘made with organic materials’. These rules apply to regenerated fibres derived from any other raw material source (e.g. wood, cotton lints, soybean, milk) as well.
Users of bamboo (and other regenerated) fibres should also be aware about the legal labelling requirements in their sales markets. In the US the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has clarified that if bamboo is produced through rayon process these fibers must be called rayon and not bamboo (see FTC article “How to avoid bamboozling your customers”). Equivalent labelling requirements apply e.g. in the European Union as well.

What are the main product requirements with regard to (wet) processing and manufacturing?

All chemical inputs (s.a. dyes, auxiliaries and process chemicals) are to be assessed and must meet basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability/eliminability. Critical inputs s.a. toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, genetically modified organisms (GMO) are banned. There are also restrictions for the use of accessories. Raw materials, intermediates, final textile products as well as accessories must meet stringent limits regarding unwanted residues. Packaging material must not contain PVC.

Why does GOTS prohibit the use of auxiliaries that contain genetically modified organisms (GMO) or their enzymes?

The question whether enzymes derived from genetically modified organisms should be accepted under GOTS was readdressed and discussed in the revision process for GOTS Version 3.0. Finally the position of the IWG remains that the use of genetically modified organisms - including their enzymes - is incompatible with the production of textiles labelled as ‘organic’ or ‘made with organic’ under GOTS. While the IWG Technical Committee acknowledges that there are applications including, and based on GM technologies, that result in a reduction of energy and water use and replace chemicals compare to some conventional textile processes this is only one side of the coin.
It is a fact that many organisations and individuals have strong concerns about the use of the technology of genetic engineering considering problems that have already arisen and the unknown and uncertain long-term effects and risks on the environment and not the least because of ethical reservations and business principles. Logically ‘GMO-free’ became and still remains to be a principle of any reliable organic agricultural and food standard while there is hardly any popular and worldwide applied textile standard beside GOTS that would address this issue.
The strong concerns against genetically modified organisms are shared by many consumers and the IWG supports these concerns and thinks these should be adequately respected by offering certified organic textiles produced without the use of GM technology to consumers. The IWG thinks it is important to give consumers a choice to actively decide for themselves if they want to purchase a textile product made without using any GM derived inputs.
In this sense GOTS encourages the enzyme industry to respect these concerns about a controversially discussed technology and also (to continue) to offer natural enzymes for use in the textile industry.

Why does GOTS prohibit the use of auxiliaries that are based on functional nano-particles?

Auxiliaries based on nano particles belong with their extremely small size to a novel set of materials where science does not yet have sufficient information about their (chronically) long term effects. In the textile sector especially auxiliaries based on nano silver particles are already applied in finishing (anti-microbial properties). A basic question that is not yet answered are: Where do/can nano particles go to and what (long term) effect can they cause there (human body and environment)? Likewise nano particles penetrate organs and tissues in the body that larger forms cannot reach, like the brain, lung, and testes. In the case of nano-silver and other finishing applications that are pesticides having potentially devastating effects this clearly needs to be seen very critically. Accordingly we conclude that a general prohibition is be scientifically reasonable for GOTS being a standard that is committed to environmental issues and human health.

What is the difference between GOTS and OE (Organic Exchange) 100 / Blended Standards and of the related certification systems?

While GOTS is a comprehensive standard for a ‘full product claim’ that is setting detailed environmental and social criteria throughout the entire textile supply chain for textiles using a minimum of 70% organic fibres, OE 100 and Blended Standards (issued by Textile Exchange) trace the organic cotton fibre flow throughout the entire textile supply chain to allow a corresponding organic cotton ‘fibre claim’ in the final textile product without adding environmental or social criteria in processing.
Brands and retailers may use OE Standards as a stepping stone to GOTS (e.g. a certification to cover tracking and handling while supply chains organize themselves to comply with GOTS).
Many companies in the supply chain even choose to be certified to both OE and GOTS so that they can better meet the needs of their customers. There may be cases where a specific product cannot meet all demanding processing requirements of GOTS (eg: because not all dyestuffs and auxiliaries used can comply with GOTS processing criteria or the minimum percentage of 70% organic fibres is not met). In that case the product could still be certified to an OE standard, which still allows verification and a labelling possibility for the organic fibre content. GOTS and OE Standards may therefore be seen as complementary rather than competing certification systems.
Textile Exchange offers a brief reference guide highlighting the equivalences and differences between both certification systems on its website.

How does GOTS provide the answer to Greenpeace’s “Detox” campaign challenge?

GOTS Already Prohibits the “11 Hazardous Chemicals that Should Be Eliminated” Targeted in Greenpeace’s “Detox” Campaign! Greenpeace’s Detox campaign has targeted global apparel manufacturers for their use of 11 hazardous chemical and heavy metal categories including alkylphenols, phthalates, brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, azo dyes, organotin compounds, perfluorinated chemicals, chlorobenzenes, chlorinated solvents, chlorophenols, short-chain chlorinated paraffins, and heavy metals including cadmium, lead, mercury and chromium. These compounds are known to be toxic, persistent, bio-accumulative, carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic, or hormone disruptors, and their use poses risks for the environment and human health. The substances / substance groups highlighted in the campaign have always been prohibited for use in the processing/manufacturing of textile products certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) through the strict general requirements related to hazards and toxicity (GOTS chapter 2.3.2). In addition, GOTS chapter 2.3.1, “Prohibited and Restricted Inputs”, explicitly lists those hazardous chemical inputs that are potentially used in conventional textile processing but that are banned or restricted for environmental and/or toxicological reasons in all processing stages of GOTS Goods. In GOTS Version 4.0, the Greenpeace campaign’s 11 input groups are all explicitly listed as prohibited. Quite often the ban on the substance group is even more extensive in GOTS:

Detox chemical group

Related wording for ban of the chemical group
(in GOTS chapter 2.3.1)

Alkylphenols

Prohibited are all Alkylphenols (APs) and Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEOs).

Phthalates

Prohibited plasticizers are:

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), Phthalates, Bisphenol A and all other plasticizers with endocrine disrupting
potential

Brominated and chlorinated flame retardants (BFRs, CFRs)

-> equal wording

Azo dyes

Inputs (e.g. azo dyes and pigments) releasing carcinogenic arylamine compounds (MAK III, category 1,2,3,4)

Organotin compounds

-> equal wording

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)

Per- and Polyfluorinated compounds

Chlorobenzenes

Chlorinated benzenes

Chlorinated solvents

Aromatic and/or halogenated solvents

Chlorophenols

Chlorophenols (including their salts and esters)

Short chain chlorinated paraffins

Short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs, C10-13)

Heavy metals: cadmium, lead, mercury and chromium (VI)

All heavy metals, with exceptions only for iron (general exception) and copper (for blue, green and turquoise dyestuffs)

GOTS quality assurance criteria states that:
•    All chemical inputs (dyes and auxiliaries) used in the processing chain of GOTS certified textiles are subject to approval by a GOTS Approved Certifier prior to their usage. The basis for their assessment is the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that must be compiled according to a recognised norm or directive. The Approved Certifiers require further sources of information in the assessment - including additional toxicological and environmental data for specific components of the auxiliary agents, test reports, and independent laboratory analysis. This means that GOTS approved chemical inputs have all been screened in detail before their use is permitted by textile processors. Information about the input review process and the Approved Certifiers is on our website.
•    The trade names of all approved dyes and auxiliaries are compiled on “Positive Lists” that are available to all entities participating in the GOTS certification programme through their certifier. Inputs not included on the positive list are not allowed to be used.
•    As part of the annual on-site inspection that all businesses participating in the GOTS certification programme must undergo, the certifiers verify the use of compliant chemical inputs by examining the textile processors’ input recipes. Related GOTS control measures also include inventory checks of the chemical storage area(s) as well as the review of records and accounts for chemical inputs (invoices, delivery notes) to ensure that the declared and approved chemical inputs have been purchased in sufficient quantity to produce the given amount of GOTS Goods.
•    GOTS also requires testing of textile materials, intermediates, and finished products in accordance with a risk assessment or in the case of suspicion that prohibited substances have been used. Since it is not affordable and reasonable to make testing of any prohibited substance part of the usual test protocol, GOTS (chapter 2.4.15) focuses the test protocol on prohibited substances that may well pose a valid risk for presence in allowed GOTS materials, chemical inputs, processes, finishing methods, and storage of GOTS products, and that are known to have a harmful effect on humans or the environment.
•    While any detection of prohibited substances at any level needs to be investigated for potential (intentional) use of the prohibited substance, (avoidable) contamination, or any other violation of GOTS criteria, the following limit values for intermediates and final products related to the Detox chemicals are outlined in GOTS chapter 2.4.15:                                    

GOTS Limit Values and Test Methods Relevant to the Greenpeace Detox Chemicals:

 

Parameter

Criteria

Test method

Alkylphenol (ethoxylates)

NP, OP, NPEO, OPEO sum parameter

< 20 mg/kg

For NP, OP: Extraction, derivatisation, GC/MS or HPLC/MS

For NPEO, OPEO: Extraction in methanol, derivatisation, HPLC/MS

(test range for NPEO and OPEO: 3-15 moles)

Arylamines with carcinogenic properties (amine-releasing azo dyes MAK III, category 1,2,3)

Aniline (MAK III, category 4)

< 20 mg/kg

< 100 mg/kg

EN 14362-1 and -3

(HPLC/GCMS)

Chlorophenols (PCP, TeCP)                                        <                                                                              0.05                                                                           mg/kg                                                                                    

< 0.01 mg/kg

LFGB 82-02-08

(GC/MS)

o-Phenylphenole

< 1.0 mg/kg

Extraction in solvent, GC/MS

Heavy metals

In eluate: figures in mg/kg refer to the textile

Elution DIN EN ISO 105-E04
ISO 17294-2

(ICP/MS)

Antimony                    (Sb)

< 0.2 mg/kg

 

Arsenic                        (As)

< 0.2 mg/kg

 

Cadmium                    (Cd)

< 0.1 mg/kg

 

Chromium                   (Cr)

< 1.0 mg/kg

 

Cobalt                         (Co)

< 1.0 mg/kg

 

Copper                        (Cu)

< 25 mg/kg

 

Lead                            (Pb)

< 0.2 mg/kg

 

Nickel                         (Ni)

< 1.0 mg/kg

 

Mercury                      (Hg)

< 0.02 mg/kg

 

Selenium                    (Se)

< 0.2 mg/kg

 

Tin                               (Sn)

< 2.0 mg/kg

 

Chromium VI (Cr-VI)

< 0.5 mg/kg

Elution DIN EN ISO 105-E04,
ISO 11083

Heavy metals

in digested sample:

EPA 3050 B

Cadmium (Cd)

< 45 mg/kg

(ICP/MS)

Lead (Pb)

< 50 mg/kg

 

Organotin compounds, individually
TBT, TphT, DBT, DOT


< 0.05 mg/kg

Extraction in solvent, ISO 17353 (GC/MS) or
ISO/TS 16179

MBT

< 0.1 mg/kg

Per- and Polyfluorinated compounds (PFC) , individually:

PFOA, PFOS
FTOH

absent

< 0.001 mg/kg
<   0.01 mg/kg



Extraction in solvent, LC/MS
Extraction in solvent, GC/MS

Phthalates (DINP, DMEP, DNOP, DEHP, DIDP, BBP, DBP, DIBP), sum parameter

< 100 mg/kg

DIN EN 15777: 2009-12

(GC/MS)

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH): Chrysene, Benzo[a]anthracen, Benzo[b]fluoranthene, Benzo(j)fluoranthene, Benzo[k]fluoranthene, Benzo[a]pyrene, Benzo(e)pyrene, Dibenzo[a,h]anthracene, Naphthalin, Acenaphthylene, Acenaphthene, Fluorene, Phenanthrene, Anthracene, Fluoranthene, Pyrene, Indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene, Benzo[g,h,i]perylene,
sum parameter
individually

< 10 mg/kg
< 1 mg/kg

ISO 18287 or ZEK 01.2-08

(GC/MS)

Labelling & Logo Use

(All stipulations related to labelling and GOTS logo use can be looked up in the section 'Licensing & Labelling')

What prerequisites do retailers need to fulfil to be allowed to use the GOTS logo or any reference to GOTS certification on certified final textiles?

Before selling GOTS certified and labelled final products to the end consumer, the retailer must ensure that:

  • The last operation in the textile supply chain that is obliged to participate in the certification chain holds a valid scope certificate issued by an Approved Certifier:
    1. If the retailer does also have a B2B trade activity (e.g. sale to other retailers) and/or (re)packs or (re)labels the GOTS Goods, the retailer must be certified. The same conditions for the certification of traders as detailed below apply.
    2. If the retailer does not have a B2B trade activity and does not (re)pack or (re)label the GOTS Goods, the retailer is exempt from the certification obligation. In this case the retailer must assure that his seller of the ready packed and labelled GOTS Goods is certified.
  • The product labelling contains a reference (name and/or reference number) to the last certified stage and to its Approved Certifier, and has been released by this Approved Certifier

What prerequisites do traders need to fulfil to be allowed to use the GOTS logo or any reference to GOTS certification on certified (semi-)finished textiles?

Before selling GOTS certified and labelled (semi-)finished products within the textile supply chain, the trader must ensure that:

  • The trader holds a valid scope certificate from an Approved Certifier. This requirement is valid for traders with a B2B trade activity (e.g. for importers, exporters and wholesalers). Only traders having an annual turnover of less than 5000€ with GOTS Goods who do not (re)pack or (re)label them are exempt from the certification obligation. However they must register with an Approved Certifier and must inform the same immediately after their annual turnover exceeds 5000€.
  • The intended use of the GOTS logo or other reference to GOTS certification has been released by the Approved Certifier
  • Full records are maintained for each client that receives GOTS Goods, including lists of all products, their specifications and quantities

What prerequisites do processors and manufacturers need to fulfil to be allowed to use the GOTS logo or any reference to GOTS certification on certified (intermediate) textiles?

Before selling GOTS certified and labelled (intermediate) textiles within the supply chain, processors and manufacturers must ensure that:

  • They hold a valid scope certificate from an Approved Certifier.
  • The intended use of the GOTS logo or other reference to GOTS certification has been released by the Approved Certifier
  • Full records are maintained for each client that receives GOTS Goods, including lists of all products, their specifications and quantities

How can brand holders and retailers that are not obliged to participate in the certification system apply the GOTS logo on their textiles?

Brand holders or retailers that are not obliged to participate in the GOTS certification system can ask their certified supplier to apply the logo. In this case the labelling would be under survey of the GOTS certifier of the supplier and the supplier's reference (e.g. license number) would appear on the labelling. Alternatively brand holders or retailers that are not obliged to participate in the GOTS certification system may decide to apply for certification on a voluntary basis. In this case they can apply the logo on their own under survey of their GOTS certifier. Accordingly their own reference (e.g. licence number) will appear on the labelling. In any case only a GOTS certified entity may apply GOTS labelling to a product.

What is the cost for the use of the GOTS logo?

In addition to the certification cost each certified entity must pay a licence fee for each calendar year. The license fee is set at 120 Euro for each facility that is inspected for the certified entity, is collected by the Approved Certifier and transferred to the International Working Group. This fee also covers the right to use the GOTS logo on certified textile products in conjunction with the licensing and application criteria as detailed in the Licensing and Labelling Guide which means that no extra (turnover based) fee is set by the International Working Group for the use of the GOTS logo.
Traders, brand holders and retailers that are exempt from the GOTS certification requirement do not need to pay any license fee for their labelling.

Can the GOTS logo be used for the purpose to write an article?

Stakeholders, NGOs, media and other parties that distribute independent (consumer or industry) information can use the GOTS logo in conjunction with accurate statements about GOTS and its quality assurance system. They can obtain a high resolution logo by sending a corresponding request indicating the purpose of the logo use by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .