Global Organic Textile Standard
By the end of 2008, the sales of organic cotton are expected to touch $2.6 billion indicating that the global demand for organic textiles and garments is on the increase. One of the recent developments in this industry is the development of the Global Organic Textile Standard. The global organic textile standards were developed to unify organic standards within this industry so that manufacturers can market their products to different countries under one certification that is acceptable in all major markets of the world.
Before the introduction of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), manufacturers needed different certifications to market in different countries. GOTS is a large scale effort to unify organic standards in the textile and garment industry.
The Development of GOTS
The Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) is a collaborative effort between the Organic Trade Association, Soil Association, International Association Natural Textile Industry (IVN) and Japan Organic Cotton Association (JOCA).
During the International Conference on Organic Textiles (INTERCOT) in Germany in 2002, representatives of organic cotton producers and textile industry, standard and certifying organisations as well as consumers launched a workshop to discuss the need for a standard that would be recognised worldwide. This workshop resulted in the formation of the International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard.
At the next INTERCOT conference in Chicago in 2005, the first version of GOTS was presented.
Scope and Structure of GOTS
To ensure the organic status of textiles, GOTS has laid down requirements for the harvesting of raw material, production, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, export and import of fibre products, yarns, fabrics and clothes.
The key points of the GOTS standards include:
- The standards provide for two categories of labels if the products are in compliance with all criteria: final products can be labelled as (a) “organic” or “organic – in conversion (b) “made with x% organic material” or “made with x% organic in conversion material”. The labelling of products as “in conversion” is only possible if the operation has completed at least 12 months under organic management and is under the supervision of a certification body. Also, the use of in conversion material is acceptable if it can be demonstrated that the organic fibres are not available in sufficient quality, quantity or type.
- Products sold, labelled or represented as “organic” or “organic – in conversion” must contain 95% or more of these fibres (excluding non textile accessories). The balance 5% may be made of non organic fibres (synthetic or regenerated fibres). However, the 5% balance may not be made of conventional fibres of the same raw material as the organic fibres in the product – that is, no blending.
- Products sold, labelled or represented as “made with x% organic materials” or ““made with x% organic in conversion material” must contain between 70% - 95% of these fibres. The remaining 30% can be non organic fibres, but here again no blending is allowed.
- Throughout the whole processing chain, organic fibres must not be mingled with non organic fibres.
- Genetically modified organisms and their derivatives are prohibited
- Formaldehyde and aromatic solvents are prohibited
- Requirements for auxiliary agents and dyestuffs are laid down
- Requirements for accessories including sewing threads, embroidery yarns, shoulder pads, zips and buckles are laid down
- Operators must have an environmental policy including the training of staff in the conservation of water and energy, the proper and minimal use of chemicals and their correct disposal.
- Products must be stored, packaged and transported so that so that they are not contaminated by conventional products or prohibited substances. PVC cannot be used for packaging. In case pesticides are used in storage or transport facilities, they must comply with international standards or the national organic production standard on which the inspection is based.
- Operational procedures and practices must be documented so that the inspectorate can trace the trail of organic products.
- The operation must have minimum social criteria that there is no forced or bonded labour. Child labour is not allowed as being defined as the relevant ILO guidelines. Living wages must be paid and working hours must not be excessive. No inhumane treatment is allowed and no discrimination can be practiced.
- The operator must have a quality assurance system in place.
For the complete standards, please see Global Organic Textile Standard
The GOTS Logo
The logo which represents the GOTS has initially been published during the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) World Congress on 17th June, 2008 in Italy. However the labelling guide that will define the details of its usage (by certified companies, on certified garments etc.) is currently under preparation. The labelling guide is expected to be released by the end of July 2008 and will then be published. Certified companies should thereafter contact their GOTS certification body to receive the logo and get its usage approved.
- Global Organic Textile Standard
- Demand for organic cotton continues to grow
- About GOTS
- Organic clothing standards