The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is recognised as the world’s leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibres.
It defines high-level environmental issues and includes compliance with social criteria as well. GOTS covers every step in the production process from the fibre to the finished garment.
Below Joy Vasiljev from The Organic Company explains the benefits of GOTS and what it means for the organic cotton production and the environment.
What is GOTS?
Behind GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard – is a textile seal, which since 2006 provides a uniform certification process in the production, processing and distribution of sustainable textiles.
Covering the entire organic textiles supply chain is important, because many chemicals and though working conditions can be an issue in both processing and making of garments. Organic grown cotton is one part of the entire supply chain, but every step needs inspection and compliance with the standard of GOTS.
The seal is renewed annually and the companies are subject to inspection. Keeping the certificate requires regular checks and suppliers along the value chain is being audited, booth announced and unannounced by independent inspectors.
This provides a credible assurance to the end consumer. The entire supply chain must be GOTS certified and pay a license fee to be able to place a GOTS label on the final product. The label must show the license number and the certifier.
Trust in Organic
We often get asked: Can you trust in Organic cotton production?
This excellent question reminds us that you are not taking a word for granted. It tells us that our customers has critical common sense, which we adore.
Because it’s a long and tangeled journey from cotton farm to finished garment. The complexity calls for a cross-national inspection body, and this is where certification plays it’s role.
The smart thing with GOTS is how the strict inspections are taking place in all steps. From farmer, spinner, weaver, maker, to warehouse and finally brandholder.
Organic cotton is a natural, renewable and biodegradable material. It benefits cotton producers and the environment in developing countries by avoiding the harmful effects of toxic pesticides.
- It’s better for the farm environment
- It’s better for workers in the fields and in cotton processing
- It avoids GMO
- It doesn’t use harmful manufacturing chemicals
- Factories are more safe to operate
- The end garments are free of harmful chemistry such as insecticides, pesticides and fungicides
Conventional cotton harm
“The non-organic cotton industry is a huge source of global environmental pollution. Conventionally grown cotton is using almost one quarter of all the world’s insecticides and more than 10% of pesticides each year.
Social conditions for cotton growers can be extreme poor. Poverty, health problems and suicide common, and thousands of chemicals are used to turn raw material into clothes, towels, bedding and other items that we put next to our skin every day.”
Source: Soil Association
The Organic Company’s products have always been made from 100% organic cotton. Since 2010 all our products are additionally 100% GOTS certified organic cotton.
Licence number: DK21797
More about GOTS
One of the ways to assure the fabrics and garments are truly Organic and GOTS certified, is that the system is cross checked all along the supply chain. This is done with the so called Transaction Certificates (TC).
These documents are created by an impartial inspector choosen by GOTS. The TC describes the amount and volume of material being traded between two parts of the supply chain, whether it be raw cotton, spun yarn or finished garments.
The TC papers are a cornerstone in the transparency and reliability of GOTS, and because the papers are not something companies can create themselves, the closed system is really hard to tamper.
All GOTS certified companies are shown in their online database.
Accopmanied with monitoring the TC, all GOTS certified companies are subject to inspection. The assigned certifying organization will carry out an annual inspection assessing processing and storage facilities, wastewater treatment practices, chemical inputs and dyes.
It may conduct interviews with management and workers to investigate social standards of the workplace. Unannounced inspections can also be conducted.. At each shipment of organic goods a transaction certificate will be issued to track the fibre from the farm through the whole supply chain.
GOTS’ core provisions include the certified organic fibres, and general bans on the use of toxic and harmful chemicals, conventional cotton, virgin polyester, GMOs, substances derived from GMOs and nanotechnology.
GOTS criteria have clear restrictions on a variety of chemicals of concern during the processing of the fibre as well as on product packaging and accessories. GOTS requires, among other things, an environmental management and waste water treatment policy and it sets minimum social criteria for the whole textile supply chain.
The GOTS social criteria are based on the ILO key conventions (International Labour Organisation), which include the ban on child labour.
GOTS is now on to version 5.0 of its criteria, which means the standard is being maintained and has since it’s establishment in 2006 experience and credibility. The current version is the result of a year-long revision process with multi-stakeholder input which is repeated every three years. Organisations invited to take part in the revision process included Greenpeace, Clean Clothes Campaign, Fair Labour Association, FairWear Foundation, the ILO and Textile Exchange.
Reguarding social criteria, an explicit section on Ethical Business Behaviour, with a corruption ban is included, based on the UN Global Compact Principles. The mandatory GOTS Social Compliance Management System, since version 5.0 also includes guidance on the use of tools such as the SAI Social Fingerprint to help companies measure and improve their social performance.
“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.
The aim of the standard is to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing, up to labeling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.”
It covers the production, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, exportation, importation and the distribution of all natural textile fibres.