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GOTS Updates Organic Standard

Calls for ban on virgin polyester and angora.

The Global Organic Textile Standard International Working Group launched a 4.0 version of the worldwide recognized standard for the processing of textiles made from certified organic natural fibers, which, among its new provisions, calls for bans on virgin polyester and angora.

“Both bans are reasonable,” said Marcus Bruegel, GOTS technical director. “Recycled polyester yarn is already widely available. In the case of angora, the ban is a consequence of the mostly unacceptable animal husbandry conditions of angora rabbits.”

GOTS’ core provisions, such as the 70 percent minimum content of certified organic fibers, the general bans on the use of substances from disputed techniques such as genetic engineering and nanotechnology, as well as carcinogenic substances, have been maintained. There are modified rules on permissible conventional “additional fiber materials” that now may consist of up to 30 percent regenerated, respective synthetic fibers provided they are environmentally improved and certified. For regenerated fibers, this means that the raw material must be from certified organic production, sustainable forestry management or be certified recycled. For synthetic fibers, the raw material must be recycled and also certified according to recognized standards.

“In the future, textile manufacturers will have a larger choice of fiber mixes if they also use the environmentally improved variants of regenerated and synthetic fibers,” Bruegel said.

The GOTS social criteria are based on the International Labor Organization conventions, including the ban on child labor. GOTS 4.0 stipulates programs or certifications with the results considered during a GOTS inspection — Fair Wear Foundation, Social Accountability 8000, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production and the Business Social Compliance Initiative. Fire-prevention training and evacuation drills were added to the existing health and safety training requirements.

The implementation period for GOTS-certified entities to comply with the new criteria is one year. GOTS 4.0 is the result of a three-year revision process with multistakeholder input with expertise in the fields of organic production, textile processing, textile chemistry and social criteria. This time the participating organizations also included Greenpeace, the Clean Clothes Campaign, Fairtrade, the Fair Wear Foundation, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and Textile Exchange.

After the number of facilities becoming certified to GOTS in 62 countries worldwide surpassed 3,000 in 2012, it increased again in 2013 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 balanced by a substantial increase in Europe, where 109 new facilities were registered. Major increases were seen in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy and France.