Global Organic Textile Standard
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
Version 2.0 was published in June 2008, almost 2 ½ years after introduction of the 1st Version. The high ecological and social requirements as well as word-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 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 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 International Working Group was that a clear and unambiguous understanding of the content required that the Global Standard itself focuses on compulsory criteria only. The standard is valid for fibre products, yarns, fabrics and clothes and covers the production, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, exportation, importation and distribution of all natural fibre products. The standard does not set criteria for leather products.
The key criteria for fibre production can be identified as:
* Organic certification of fibres on basis of recognised international or national standards (e.g. EEC 834/2007, USDA NOP)
* Certification of fibres from 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
Key criteria for processing and manufacturing include:
* At all stages through the processing organic fibre products must be separated from conventional fibre 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, 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, no plastic appliqué or inlays)
* All operators must have an environmental policy including procedures to minimise waste and discharges
* Wet processing units must keep full records of the use of chemicals, energy, water consumption and waste water treatment, including the disposal of sludge. The waste water from all wet processing units must be treated in a functional waste water treatment plant.
* Packaging material must not contain PVC
* 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
* Minimum social criteria based on the key norms of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) must be met by all processors
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
* Fibre producers (farmers) must be certified according to a recognised international or national organic farming standard that is accepted in the country where the final product will be sold
* Certifiers of fibre producers must be internationally recognised according to ISO 65 and/or IFOAM accreditation. They also must be accredited to certify according to the applicable fibre standard
* Operators from post-harvest handling up to garment making and traders up to the import stage have to undergo an onsite annual inspection cycle and must hold a valid GOTS operational 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 and must hold a ‘GOTS accreditation’ in accordance with the rules as defined in the ‘Approval Procedure and Requirements for Certification Bodies’
* Stringent orientation 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‘ or ‚organic - in conversion‘
≥ 95% certified organic fibres, ≤ 5 % non-organic natural or synthetic fibres
Label-grade 2: ‚made with X% organic‘ or ‚made with X% organic in conversion‘
≥ 70% certified organic fibres, ≤ 30 % non organic fibres, but a maximum of 10% synthetic fibres (up to 25% for socks, leggings and sportswear)
The only differentiation for subdivision is the minimum percentage of 'organic' / 'organic - in conversion' material in the final product. This is analogous to leading organic regulations in the food market, such as USDA/NOP. The remaining balance (up to 5% or 30% respectively) may be composed of non-organic fibres, including defined regenerated and synthetic fibres (25% at most for socks, leggings and sportswear and 10% for all other textile products). Blending conventional and organic fibres of the same type in the same product is not permitted.
Principles of the Review and Revision Process - Stakeholder Input
The member organisations of the International Working Group are backed up by stakeholder based decision bodies / technical committees which has 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 International Working Group is soliciting participation by international stakeholder organisations in the ongoing process of review and revision of the GOTS. For this purpose, starting with the revision of standard version 2.0 in 2010 a formal stakeholder input process will be established. While the review process is a continuous one, standard revisions are anticipated every two to three years. Details of the current revision process are provided for in section ‘GOTS Version 2.0’.
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Label-grade 2: ‚made with X% organic‘ or ‚made with X% organic in conversion‘
≥ 70% certified organic fibres, ≤ 30 % non organic fibres, but a maximum of 10% synthetic fibres (respective 25% for socks, leggings and sportswear)
Corresponding label application:
© 2010 by International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard