Undestanding textile certifications

08 May 2021 • Filed under sustainability

Textile certifications are very confusing.
One of the reason is that they do not all cover the same areas: organic production, energy usage, pollution, workplace and consumer health and safety… there are LOTS of elements to consider.

In this blog post, I had recollected some of the most well-known and how they work.
I hope these can make a little clearer the wide and hard world of textile certification.

OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100

Every component of this article, i.e. every thread, button and other accessories, has been tested for harmful substances and that the article therefore is harmless for human health.”

✓ consumer safety
✓ finished product

✗ organic material
✗ sustainable process

This is the certification of the linen I use. I find it enough since linen is from Lithuania, a country with high safety and welfare standards for workers.
Moreover, flax usually needs less pesticide than other crops.

BLUESIGN

“It guarantees a unique approach to minimize the environmental impact during the production process […] the substances and raw materials applied are checked before being used in a production chain.
[…] It is applied before production. This means that suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, fashion brands must undergo rigorous testing to verify compliance […]
[…] reduces the environmental impact on the entire textile supply chain […] provides an efficient solution […] evaluating the chemicals used in the various processing phases.

Therefore it covers this elements:

  • Productivity of the resources used
  • Consumer safety
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Water / energy consumption
  • Air emission control

✓ consumer safety
✓ finished product
✓ more sustainable process

✗ organic material
✗ fair workers’ salary

GOTS

“… to define world-wide recognized 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.
[…] evaluates the processing and manufacturing of textiles on the basis of both, environmental and social criteria. This means assessing everything from the chemical inputs being used to the ethical treatment of workers.

[…] To become GOTS certified, it is mandatory to meet all of the criteria.

✓ consumer safety
✓ sustainable process
✓ organic material
✓ fair workers treatment

✗ final product features

I wrote the last negative point since I experienced working with GOTS textile.
While in my opinion it is the best standard certification regarding environment and social responsability, it does not guarantee the quality of the final fabric in terms of softness and body.
I worked with non-organic fabric with far better touch on skin.

RWS & RMS

[…] it ensure that wool and mohair come from farms with a progressive approach to managing their land, and from sheep and goat that have been treated responsibly; create an industry benchmark that will drive improvements in animal care, land management and social welfare where needed; and provide a robust chain of custody system from farm to final product.
[…] The farmer demonstrates good practices with regard to fair hiring, which is free of discrimination and intimidation and directly combats risk factors for forced labor.

✓ sustainable process
✓ animal welfare
✓ fair workers treatment

These were some of the most common textile certifications but there are plenty of them and a blog post is not enough to speak of all of them.
However I hope I made a little clearer how they work.

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