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Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2017 22:54
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
Version 5.0 was published on 1st of March 2017, 3 years after the Version 4.0 was introduced and 12 years after the launch of the 1st Version. The high ecological and social requirements, as well as world-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 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.
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 Founding Organizations 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, labeling, trading, and distribution of all textiles made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibers. The final products may include but are not limited to fiber products, yarns, fabrics, clothes and home textiles. The standard does not set criteria for leather products.
The key criteria for fiber production can be identified as:
Organic certification of fibers on the basis of recognized international or national standards (IFOAM family of standards, EEC 834/2007, USDA NOP)
Certification of fibers from the 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
Key criteria for processing and manufacturing include:
At all stages, through the processing, organic fibre products must be separated from conventional fiber 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 minimize waste and discharges
Wet processing units must keep full records of the use of chemicals, energy, water consumption and wastewater treatment, including the disposal of sludge. The wastewater 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
Social criteria based on the key norms of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) must be met by all processors and manufacturers. They must have 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 labor must not be used
C138 - Minimum Age Convention
C182 - Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention
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 practiced
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
Fiber producers (farmers) must be certified according to a recognized international or national organic farming standard that is accepted in the country where the final product will be sold
Certifiers of fiber producers must be internationally recognized through ISO 65/17065, NOP and/or IFOAM accreditation. They also must be accredited to certify according to the applicable fiber 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 65/17065 and must hold a ‘GOTS accreditation’ in accordance with the rules as defined in the ‘Approval Procedure and Requirements for Certification Bodies’
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
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 fibers, ≤ 5 % non-organic natural or synthetic fibers
Label-grade 2: ‚made with X% organic‘
≥ 70% certified organic fibers, ≤ 30 % non-organic fibers, but a maximum of 10% synthetic fibers (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 fibers 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 fibers relevant for the fiber composition.
If raw fibers with the certified status 'organic - in conversion' are used instead of certified 'organic’ fibers, 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 GOTS Founding Organizations are backed up by stakeholder-based decision bodies / technical committees which have 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 Founding Organizations are soliciting participation by international stakeholder organizations 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'.