The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the world's leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
Version 3.0 was published on 1 March 2011, six years after the introduction of the initial version. High ecological and social requirements as well as global practicability and verifiability were taken into consideration in the revision work in order to achieve reliable and transparent criteria.
The information in this section provides an overview of the standard's content and basic requirements. It does not reflect all criteria in the standard and may therefore not be used for official purposes.
The aim of the standard is to define globally recognised requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing all the way to labelling in order to provide credible assurance to the end consumer.
Textile processors and manufacturers should be able to export their organic fabrics and garments with one certification accepted in all major markets.
The consensus of the International Working Group was that a clear and unambiguous understanding of the content required the Global Organic Textile Standard itself to focus on compulsory criteria only. The standard covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of all textiles made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibres. The final products may include but are not limited to: fibre products, yarns, fabrics, clothes and home textiles. The standard does not set criteria for leather products.
The key criteria for fibre production can be identified as:
Key criteria for processing and manufacturing include:
All processors and manufacturers must meet minimum social criteria based on the key norms of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). They must implement social compliance management with defined elements to ensure that the social criteria can be met. The applicable key conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) listed must be used as the relevant basis for interpretation for adequate implementation and assessment of the following social criteria topics.
Generally, a company participating in the GOTS certification scheme must comply with all criteria of the standard. GOTS relies on a dual system to check compliance with the relevant criteria consisting of on-site auditing and residue testing.
Certifiers of processors, manufacturers and traders must be internationally accredited according to ISO 65 and must hold a ‘GOTS accreditation’ in accordance with the rules as defined in the ‘Approval Procedure and Requirements for Certification Bodies’
Only textiles produced and certified according to the provisions of the standard can carry the GOTS label.
Label grade 1: 'organic'
≥ 95% certified organic fibres, ≤ 5 % non-organic natural or synthetic fibres
Label grade 2: 'made with X% organic'
≥ 70% certified organic fibres, ≤ 30 % non organic fibres, but a maximum of 10% synthetic fibres (up to 25% for socks, leggings and sportswear)
The only differentiation for subdivision is the minimum percentage of 'organic' material in the final product. This is analogous to leading organic regulations in the food market, such as USDA/NOP. The remaining balance (up to 5% or 30% respectively) may be composed of non-organic fibres, including defined regenerated and synthetic fibres (25% at most for socks, leggings and sportswear and 10% for all other textile products). Blending conventional and organic fibres of the same type in the same product is not permitted.
If raw fibres with the certified status 'organic - in conversion' are used instead of certified 'organic’ fibres, the corresponding label grades are 'organic - in conversion' or 'made with x% organic - in conversion materials'.
The member organisations of the International Working Group are backed up by stakeholder-based decision bodies / technical committees. This ensured that views of relevant stakeholders were taken into consideration right from the beginning when integrating their respective existing organic textile standards into the GOTS. The GOTS-approved certification bodies are also actively involved in the GOTS revision process via the 'Certifiers Council'.
In order to further broaden the basis of the GOTS, the International Working Group is soliciting participation by international stakeholder organisations in the ongoing GOTS review and revision process. For this purpose, a formal stakeholder input process was established starting with the revision to develop standard version 3.0 in 2010. While the review process is a continuous one, standard revisions are anticipated about every three years. Details of the latest revision process are provided in section 'Latest Version'.