Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 18:06
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.
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.
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.
The key criteria for fibre production can be identified as:
Key criteria for processing and manufacturing include:
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.
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.
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% conventional 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, in case theses fibres are are not recycled or derifed from raw material which is certified organic or from certified sustainable forestry management). Blending conventional and organic fibres of the same type in the same product is not permitted. Conventional cotton, angora and virgin polyster 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'.
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'.