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General Description

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 March 2014 09:33

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.

Version 4.0 was published on 1st of March 2014, 3 years after the Version 3.0 was introduced and 9 years after the launch of the 1st Version. The high ecological and social requirements as well as word-wide practicability and verifiability were considered in the revision work, in order to achieve a reliable and transparent set of criteria.

The information in this section provides an overview of the content and basic requirements of the standard. It does not reflect all criteria of the standard and can therefore not be used for any official purpose.

Aim

The aim of the standard is to define world-wide recognised requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.
Textile processors and manufacturers are enabled to export their organic fabrics and garments with one certification accepted in all major markets.

Criteria

The consensus of the International Working Group was that a clear and unambiguous understanding of the content required that the Global Standard itself focuses 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.

Fibre Production

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The key criteria for fibre production can be identified as:

  • Organic certification of fibres on basis of recognised international or national standards (IFOAM family of standards, EEC 834/2007, USDA NOP)
  • Certification of fibres from conversion period is possible if the applicable farming standard permits such certification
  • A textile product carrying the GOTS label grade ‘organic’ must contain a minimum of 95% certified organic fibres whereas a product with the label grade ‘made with organic’ must contain a minimum of 70% certified organic fibres

Processing and Manufacturing

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Key criteria for processing and manufacturing include:

Environmental Criteria

  • At all stages through the processing organic fibre products must be separated from conventional fibre products and must to be clearly identified
  • All chemical inputs (e.g. dyes, auxiliaries and process chemicals) must be evaluated and meeting basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability/eliminability
  • Prohibition of critical inputs such as toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, functional nano particles, genetically modified organisms (GMO) and their enzymes
  • The use of synthetic sizing agents is restricted; knitting and weaving oils must not contain heavy metals
  • Bleaches must be based on oxygen (no chlorine bleaching)
  • Azo dyes that release carcinogenic amine compounds are prohibited
  • Discharge printing methods using aromatic solvents and plastisol printing methods using phthalates and PVC are prohibited
  • Restrictions for accessories (e.g. no PVC, nickel or chrome permitted)
  • All operators must have an environmental policy including target goals and procedures to minimise waste and discharges
  • Wet processing units must keep full records of the use of chemicals, energy, water consumption and waste water treatment, including the disposal of sludge. The waste water from all wet processing units must be treated in a functional waste water treatment plant.
  • Packaging material must not contain PVC. Paper or cardboard used in packaging material, hang tags, swing tags etc. must be recycled or certified according to FSC or PEFC

Technical Quality and Human Toxicity Criteria

  • Technical quality parameters must be met (s.a. rubbing, perspiration, light and washing fastness and shrinkage values)
  • Raw materials, intermediates, final textile products as well as accessories must meet stringent limits regarding unwanted residues

Minimum Social Criteria

Minimum social criteria based on the key norms of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) must be met by all processors and manufacturers. They must have a social compliance management with defined elements in place to ensure that the social criteria can be met. For adequate implementation and assessment of the following social criteria topics the listed applicable key conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) have to be taken as the relevant basis for interpretation.

  • Employment is freely chosen
    C29 - Forced Labour Convention
    C105 - Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
  • Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected
    C87 - Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
    C98 - Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
    C135 - Workers' Representatives Convention
    C154 - Collective Bargaining Convention
  • Working conditions are safe and hygienic
    C155 - Occupational Safety and Health Convention
  • Child labour must not be used
    C138 - Minimum Age Convention
    C182 - Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention
  • Living wages
    C95 - Protection of Wages Convention
    C131 - Minimum Wage Fixing Convention
  • Working hours are not excessive
    C1 - Hours of Work (Industry) Convention
    C14 - Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention
    C30 - Hours of Work (Commerce and Offices) Convention
    C106 - Weekly Rest (Commerce and Offices) Convention
  • No discrimination is practised
    C100 - Equal Remuneration Convention
    C111 - Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
  • Regular employment is provided
    C158: Termination of Employment Convention
    C175: Part-time Work Convention
    C177: Homework Convention
    C181 Private Employment Agencies Convention
  • Harsh or inhumane treatment is prohibited
    C29 - Forced Labour Convention
    C105 - Abolition of Forced Labour Convention

 

    Quality Assurance System

    Generally a company participating in the GOTS certification scheme must work in compliance 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.

    Certification of the entire textile supply chain

    • Fibre producers (farmers) must be certified according to a recognised international or national organic farming standard that is accepted in the country where the final product will be sold
    • Certifiers of fibre producers must be internationally recognised according to ISO 65 and/or IFOAM accreditation. They also must be accredited to certify according to the applicable fibre standard
    • Operators from post-harvest handling up to garment making and traders have to undergo an onsite annual inspection cycle and must hold a valid GOTS scope certificate applicable for the production / trade of the textiles to be certified
    • 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’

    Residue Testing

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    • Stringent limit values for unwanted residues are defined in the standard
    • Licensed operators must undergo residue testing according to a risk assessment of contamination
    • Additional samples may be taken by auditors and sent for analysis to ISO 17025 accredited labs

     

    Label-grades

    Only textiles produced and certified according to the provisions of the standard can carry the GOTS label.

    The standard provides for a subdivision into two label-grades:

    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 (respective 25% for socks, leggings and sportswear), as long as the raw materials used are not from certified organic origin, a sustainable forestry management program or recycled

    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.
    Blending conventional and organic fibres of the same type in the same product is not permitted. Conventional cotton, angora and virgin polyester are no longer permitted in the remaining balance of fibres relevant for the fibre composition.
    If raw fibres with the certified status 'organic - in conversion' are used instead of certified 'organic’ fibres, the corresponding label grades are named 'organic - in conversion' respective 'made with x% organic - in conversion materials'.

     

    Principles of the Review and Revision Process - Stakeholder Input

    The member organisations of the International Working Group are backed up by stakeholder based decision bodies / technical committees which has ensured that when integrating their respective existing organic textile standards into the GOTS, views of relevant stakeholders were considered from the beginning. The GOTS approved certification bodies are also actively involved in the GOTS revision process through 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 process of review and revision of the GOTS. For this purpose, starting with the revision to develop standard version 3.0 in 2010 a formal stakeholder input process was established. While the review process is a continuous one, standard revisions are anticipated every three years. Details of the latest revision process are provided for in section 'Revision Procedure'.

     

     

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    Label-grade 2: ‚made with X% organic‘ or ‚made with X% organic in conversion‘

    ≥ 70% certified organic fibres, ≤ 30 % non organic fibres, but a maximum of 10% synthetic fibres (respective 25% for socks, leggings and sportswear)

    Corresponding label application: