The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) International Working Group has announced Version 4.0 of its globally-recognised standard for the processing of textiles made from certified organic natural fibres. GOTS core provisions such as the 70 per cent minimum content of certified organic fibres, bans on GMO (genetically modified organism), nanotechnology and carcinogenic substances have been maintained.
There are modified rules on the conventional additional fibre materials: These now may consist of regenerated, respective synthetic fibres-up to 30 per cent-provided they are environmentally improved and certified. GOTS is following the current knowledge that the focus on natural fibres for this additional fibre content is no longer justifiable.
Other changes include the bans on virgin polyester and of angora (recently in the headlines due to animal cruelty concerns). New criteria were adopted for specific product groups, such as textile personal care products or mattresses. The most important addition to the social criteria that are based on the ILO key conventions (eg. banning child labour) is to take into consideration available results of various other reliable programs and certification schemes in this field.
"According to current knowledge through environmental impact assessments the previous focus on natural fibres for the permissible conventional additional fibre materials (up to max. 30 per cent) is no longer justifiable. In the future, textile manufacturers will have a larger choice of fibre mixes if they also use the environmentally improved variants of regenerated and synthetic fibres. A wider product selection of GOTS certified products will be made possible which will also support the increased use of organic fibres" notes Marcus Bruegel, GOTS Technical Director.
In addition, the use of virgin polyester and angora is banned. "Both bans are reasonable. Recycled polyester yarn is already widely available. In the case of angora the ban is a consequence of the mostly inacceptable husbandry conditions of angora rabbits" Bruegel continues.
The processing is also regulated more strictly. As in every revision process the latest insights regarding textile chemistry and residue testing methods were considered. Various applicable criteria and limit values were reinforced. The already extensive list of banned substances and strict residue parameters was further extended. This will point out more clearly that all substances criticised by Greenpeace in their "Detox Campaign" naturally remain banned in GOTS. New criteria were adopted for specific product groups, such as textile personal care products or mattresses.
GOTS 4.0 is the result of a revision process with multi-stakeholder input which is repeated every three years. Stakeholders who operate internationally with expertise in the field of organic production, textile processing, textile chemistry and social criteria and representing the industry, NGOs and consumer interests were invited to participate. This time the participating organisations also included Greenpeace, the Clean Clothes Campaign, Fairtrade, the Fair Wear Foundation, IFOAM and Textile Exchange.
GOTS Annual Report 2013
After the number of facilities becoming certified to GOTS in 62 countries worldwide surpassed the 3.000 mark in 2012, it remained stable in 2013 with an increase to a total of 3.085 certified facilities. A decrease in Asia which was partially caused by the trend of concentrating the placement of GOTS orders with certain already certified facilities was overcompensated by a huge increase in Europe. A total of 109 new facilities were registered in Germany (+66 per cent), Austria (+14 per cent) and Switzerland (+27 per cent). An increase of 73 per cent with 33 new facilities was registered in Portugal, 13 per cent increase in Italy and 12 per cent in France.