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Decoding The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

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(GOTS) was developed by leading international standard setters in order to define worldwide 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 credible assurance to the end consumer.

Decoding The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Supported by the growth in consumption of organic fibres and by the remarkable demand for unified processing criteria from the industry and retail sector, the Global Organic Textile Standard has already gained universal recognition.

It enables processors and manufacturers to supply their textiles made from organic fibres with one certification accepted in all major selling markets.

In an interaction with Indiaretailing, , GOTS Representative in India and Bangladesh, spills the beans on more about GOTS and why it is necessary.

What is GOTS?

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is recognized as the world’s leading processing standard for textiles (clothing, home textiles, and personal care products) made from certified organic fibres. It includes strict environmental and social criteria for operations along the entire textile supply chain. GOTS is recognized in all markets around the globe and the numbers are growing.

What’s the problem with textile processing?

Textile processing results in often inadequately treated discharge of toxic chemicals into the air and water, as well as hazardous workplace situations. We all live downstream and share the same water and air, and workers making products for us deserve our respect. GOTS prohibits the use of chemicals commonly used in textile processing that can cause cancer, birth defects and other serious illnesses. Chemicals, like persistent hormone-disrupting substances, also destroy eco-systems and bio-diversity on an international scale. GOTS assesses all dyes and auxiliaries under its strict criteria and approves them prior to their usage.

Why is certification of GOTS necessary?

While an important step in the right direction, the use of organic materials alone is not enough. When using organically produced materials, farm workers and environment are protected. When manufactured without using hazardous chemicals, factory workers and the environment are protected, too. When there are no harmful residues in the end-product, consumers are protected.

What are organic raw materials? 

Organic is a system of production with national standards for environmental protection and animal welfare. Organic raw materials include organic cotton, silk, flax (linen), wool etc.

Can only organic raw materials be used in GOTS-certified products?

GOTS certified textile products must contain at least 70 percent (label grade ‘made with organic’) or minimum 95 percent (label grade ‘organic’) certified organic raw fibres. For the balance 30 percent (or 5 percent), accepted additional fibres can be used.

Can you apprehend the logo of GOTS?

On – product application of GOTS label is used as a communication tool used by brands and retailers. There are systems in place to ensure the correct label design and related information is included in the labelling. This includes GOTS logo, label grade, license number and reference to Certifier. Consumers can trace the certified company by entering the license number provided on the GOTS labelling in the ‘free text field’ of GOTS Public Database. We always encourage consumers to look for the GOTS label and not to accept self-claims.

What about a statement that the yarn (or fabric) in a finished product is GOTS certified?

This is only a self-claim without verifiable traceability. Thus, you cannot be sure this claim is true. Besides, the seller cannot make any reference to GOTS for such products.

What kinds of worker-oriented provisions does GOTS provide?

Workers are not exposed to toxic chemicals when working with GOTS-certified inputs and practices. In addition, the GOTS social criteria are based on the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) key conventions which include a ban on child and forced labor and include provisions such as having systems in place to prove they are addressing social concerns, such as grievances. Furthermore, GOTS requires fire prevention training and evacuation drills.

What about animal husbandry?

As it is a textile processing standard, GOTS does not set its own criteria for organic farming. Rather it requires that at least 70 percent of the fibers used must be of organically-certified materials. For fibres sourced from animals, such fibres have to be obtained from certified organic animal husbandry operations.

Is GOTS an official standard?

GOTS is a voluntary standard so it is not regulated by a governmental body but rather managed by a non-profit organization. However, it is supported by the U.S. Government. Textiles that contain NOP certified fibres and are processed according to GOTS can be sold as ‘organic’ in the USA.

How do products/ companies become GOTS-certified?

GOTS is a product certification which means that finished products claiming to be GOTS certified must meet all GOTS criteria. In addition, all facilities involved in the production of such goods must be certified. The certification is undertaken by an independent GOTS-approved certification body and facilities are inspected regularly.