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GOTS Label: The Most Comprehensive Organic Label in Text...

In Focus
Issue: Nov-Dec , 2011

GOTS Label: The Most Comprehensive Organic Label in Textile and Clothing Market
Abrar A Apu, M.Sc., e-mail: Saood Qaseem, M.Sc., e-mail:

Industrial Textile sector is considered as one of the famous player for polluting environment. To save the environment, innumerable initiatives have been taken from governments and NGOs globally. That is why; more than 67 eco-labels are in the textile market globally. The concepts for eco-label have been evolving since 1970s through saving environment elements energy and fuel in American continent. But eco-label was globally endorsed in 1992 at UNCED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) where governments agreed to encourage expansion of eco-labels and other environmentally related product information programs were designed to assist consumers to make informed choices. Following Fig 1 explains types of eco-label, areas of implementation (national or international or continent specific), aspects considered (social, environmental, and/or health) and certifiers (first party, second party or third party).

Fig 1: Sustainable Pillars: Aspects, types and certifiers of Eco-labels GOTS stands for Global Organic Textile Standard, which was conceived at Intercot Conference 2002 in Dusseldorf, Germany. In July 2004, InNaTex, Wallau, Germany, four standard organizations IVN (Internationale Verband der Naturtextilwirtshaft) from Germany, OTA (Organic Trade Association) from USA, Soil Association from UK and JOCA (Japan Organic Cotton Association) from Japan - signed an agreement. In May 2005, Intercot, Chicago, USA, these four organizations agreed on the 1st Version of the GOTS and its implementation scheme. In October 2006, the GOTS certification system started. International Working Group (IWG) is working for GOTS and Version 3.0 already published in March 2011.

There are about 140 Eco-label worldwide and among the about 67 eco-labels (36 environmental, 12 sustainability, 6 health, 11 social/fair trade, and 2 disposal/recycle labels) for textile and clothing. Among them, some well established names are: Blue Angel, EU Eco-label, Nordic Swan, Oeko-Tex, Bule Sign, EcoMark, FairTrade, FairForLife, Green Circle, Green Label, Korean Ecolabel, Made in Green and GOTS, etc. Every label ensures specific activities of the most complex textile-clothing supply chain, except GOTS, which is considered as the most comprehensive eco-label in the global market. GOTS label examines every possible aspect of the supply chain (Fig 2) from fiber cultivation/production to final goods consumption. Every player and actor of the textile-clothing supply chain is under the strict control of GOTS to ensure integrity in all aspects of operations and services.

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GOTS Label: The Most Comprehensive Organic Label in Text...

Social, environmental, health, and disposal aspects integrity are under strong securitization of GOTS scheme. The GOTS has harmonized a total of 4 different textile standards (Fig 3) and their related labels and 14 certification bodies are already approved to certify according to GOTS. Among certifying bodies, Institute for Market Ecology (IMO) is one of the leading certifying bodies from Switzerland and was the first one to be approved for certification.

Fig 3: Standards harmonized with GOTS Aims of GOTS are: to define requirements with worldwide recognition; to simplify sourcing through removing international trade barriers; to examine and ensure organic status of textile, from organic fields (raw materials) to final products through stringent control over environmental and social issues, and in other words, the standard covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading and distribution of all textiles made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibers.

Fig 4: Aspects under GOTS stringent controls Requirements for Company for GOTS certification: Use organic textiles (fibers, yarns, fabric) from a farmer/firm who is organic certified. Keep purchase documentations and records; Bookkeeping in order to verify the organic origin of goods (inputs/output reconciliation, mass balance, calculation, trace back lots and shipments), Processing, packaging, storage, and transportation of the goods in such a manner as to prevent contamination by prohibited substances, Cleaning and separation of any system areas that risk the organic integrity, Use chemical inputs (dyes and auxiliaries) and accessories which are GOTS-positive lists compliant and keep records, Efficient and smooth running of Water Treatment Plant (WTP) inside the units, Must fulfill social criteria and its records, Have an independent, licensed Third Party (e.g. IMO control) certify compliance with the GOTS Standard. Conclusion: From 2014, the accessories and trimmings, like cartoons and papers have to be certified by FSC/PEFC and poly bags and polyester labels have to be recycled. The most comprehensive organic label- GOTS is a complete package, which provides self-confidence to textile-clothing industries that they are environmental and social caring and ensure optimum use of natural resources. Chemical manufacturers are getting confidence that their produced chemicals are not anymore so environmental damaging through GOTS-positive list approval. Consumers who value social standard and environmental impacts, ensure that the products they are using made in the best possible way with minimum environmental impact, as no product can be made without effecting environment negatively. As Bangladeshi textile industry is based on cotton processing, the use and implementation of GOTS policies will contribute to make a country less environmentally polluted, and ensure social demand of their integral part-laborers. About Authors: Both Mr. Abrar A Apu and Mr. Saood Quseem have been working for Institute for Market Ecology (IMO), based in Switzerland. They completed their MSc in Textile-Clothing from Niederrhein University of Germany.

Bangladesh Textile Today Issue: Nov-Dec , 2011

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