General Description from GOTS -- http://www.global-standard.org/the-standard/general-description.html
Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2017 22:54
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 5.0 was published on 1st of March 2017, 3 years after the Version 4.0 was introduced and 12 years after the launch 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 recognized 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 Founding Organizations was that a clear and unambiguous understanding of the content required that the Global Standard itself focuses on compulsory criteria only. The standard covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of all textiles made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibres. The final products may include, but are not limited to fibre products, yarns, fabrics, clothes and home textiles. 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 (IFOAM family of standards, 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
Processing and Manufacturing
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, functional nano particles, 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)
- All operators must have an environmental policy including target goals and 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. Paper or cardboard used in packaging material, hang tags, swing tags etc. must be recycled or certified according to FSC or PEFC
Technical Quality and Human Toxicity Criteria
- 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
Social criteria based on the key norms of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) must be met by all processors and manufacturers. They must have a social compliance management with defined elements in place to ensure that the social criteria can be met. For adequate implementation and assessment of the following social criteria topics the listed applicable key conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) have to be taken as the relevant basis for interpretation.
- Employment is freely chosen
C29 - Forced Labour Convention
C105 - Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
- Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected
C87 - Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
C98 - Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
C135 - Workers' Representatives Convention
C154 - Collective Bargaining Convention
- Working conditions are safe and hygienic
C155 - Occupational Safety and Health Convention
- Child labour must not be used
C138 - Minimum Age Convention
C182 - Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention
- Living wages
C95 - Protection of Wages Convention
C131 - Minimum Wage Fixing Convention
- Working hours are not excessive
C1 - Hours of Work (Industry) Convention
C14 - Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention
C30 - Hours of Work (Commerce and Offices) Convention
C106 - Weekly Rest (Commerce and Offices) Convention
- No discrimination is practised
C100 - Equal Remuneration Convention
C111 - Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
- Regular employment is provided
C158: Termination of Employment Convention
C175: Part-time Work Convention
C177: Homework Convention
C181 Private Employment Agencies Convention
- Harsh or inhumane treatment is prohibited
C29 - Forced Labour Convention
C105 - Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
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 through ISO 65/17065, NOP 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 have to undergo an onsite annual inspection cycle and must hold a valid GOTS scope 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 65/17065 and must hold a ‘GOTS accreditation’ in accordance with the rules as defined in the ‘Approval Procedure and Requirements for Certification Bodies’
- Stringent limit 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‘
≥ 95% certified organic fibres, ≤ 5 % non-organic natural or synthetic fibres
Label-grade 2: ‚made with X% organic‘
≥ 70% certified organic fibres, ≤ 30 % non organic fibres, but a maximum of 10% synthetic fibres (respective 25% for socks, leggings and sportswear), as long as the raw materials used are not from certified organic origin, a sustainable forestry management program or recycled
The only differentiation for subdivision is the minimum percentage of 'organic' material in the final product. This is analogous to leading organic regulations in the food market, such as USDA/NOP.
Blending conventional and organic fibres of the same type in the same product is not permitted. Conventional cotton, angora and virgin polyester are no longer permitted in the remaining balance of fibres relevant for the fibre composition.
If raw fibres with the certified status 'organic - in conversion' are used instead of certified 'organic’ fibres, the corresponding label grades are named 'organic - in conversion' respective 'made with x% organic - in conversion materials'.
Principles of the Review and Revision Process - Stakeholder Input
The GOTS Founding Organizations 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 Founding Organizations are soliciting participation by international stakeholder organisations in the ongoing process of review and revision of the GOTS. For this purpose, starting with the revision to develop standard version 3.0 in 2010 a formal stakeholder input process was established. While the review process is a continuous one, standard revisions are anticipated every three years. Details of the latest revision process are provided for in section 'Revision Procedure'
from Control Union Certified
Version date: 1 July 2016
The value of certification is based on the degree of confidence and trust that is established by an impartial, consistent and competent demonstration of fulfilment of specified requirements by a certification body. Being impartial, and being perceived to be impartial, is therefore essential for Control Union Certifications B.V. to inspire this confidence and trust in our stakeholders and key to our success. To obtain and maintain confidence, it is essential that Control Union Certification's decisions be based on objective evidence of conformity (or nonconformity), and that our decisions are not influenced by other interests or by other parties.
Based on this principle and our Code of Conduct, we strive to ensure that the highest standards of integrity, objectivity and professional behaviour are applied to all our assessment activities. Control Union Certifications B.V. applies risk assessments regarding impartiality and potential conflicts of interest on our offices, employees and clients.
Version date: 1 October 2016
Why would you want or need certification
Certification is formal attestation that a certain object or organisation complies with a defined set of requirements. Certification is done to instil confidence and trust with any stakeholder that the object or organisation has certain characteristics or embodies a specified minimum quality. To ensure that, it is important that the assessment is done by an independent, impartial and objective third party, called a certification body. You may want to become certified, just because you want to demonstrate to the world that your products, processes, services or organisation is of a certain level. Or you may require certification to be able to get into a certain market or to keep your current customers.
The first step in a certification process consists of completing an application form of the applicable scheme as presented on the Control Union Certifications website. If you are not sure you have the correct form or can’t find the programme you are looking for, you may also contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send the applicable application form to you. There is of course a slight chance that Control Union does not provide the certification you are looking for.
The information in the application form is a basis for us to provide you with an offer that relates to the correct scope of activities, products, processes and or units to be certified. From a legal perspective it is important that this offer reflects the rights and obligations that both parties have and therefore must give a realistic indication of the amount of time needed to perform an assessment that enables the certification bodies to reach a well-founded certification decision.
After receiving all the information that we need, we will compile an offer and send it to you. You are requested to respond to this offer within a certain amount of time. If you wait too long, things may have changed such that the offer no longer accurately represents the conditions under which we are able to offer you our services.
When you sign the offer and send it back to us, both parties enter into a legal contract. We will then appoint an auditor, who will contact you to make an appointment for the first audit visit. He or she may request you to submit documentation that we must assess before this first visit. In some types of audit, such as ISO 9001 or food safety audits, the first visit may be part of a phase 1 assessment. This phase 1 assessment is not the actual audit, but is meant to get a clear insight in the conditions under which the company is performing its activities. This will include, for instance, legislation, maturity of your organisation’s processes, personnel and the quality system documentation. The phase 2 audit, being the actual audit, is done after completion of the phase 1 assessment. In other types of audit, the first visit will be the actual audit.
In the actual audit, we will assess your products, processes, services or management system against the requirements as specified in a particular programme. During this assessment we may want to see documentation, invoices, registrations, conduct personnel interviews and have a look in your production area. We may have to inspect your machinery for maintenance, your food processing lines for leakages or wear, your buildings for proper flooring, etc. During this assessment, the auditor may run into issues that are not compliant with the requirements. If so, then next question is: to what extent is the issue not compliant? Generally speaking, if the issue at hand is an infringement of a legal requirement, or a breach that affects the ability of the subject of assessment to fulfil its intended goal, or it raises serious doubt about the ability of the organisation to provide compliant products or processes, then we call this a major nonconformity. A major nonconformity can be so serious that we have to declare it a critical nonconformity and have to stop operations there and then. If the nonconformity is still a breach of a requirement, but does not warrant a major nonconformity, it will become a minor nonconformity. Be aware that if we find a lot of minors, we may conclude that the company still does not manage its products or processes properly and issue a major nonconformity.
How you handle major and minor nonconformities largely depends on the programme, but generally speaking we will want you to tackle major non conformities reasonably quickly, normally within 6 weeks or so. You may have more time to solve minor nonconformities, but be aware that this does not go for all programmes! Critical nonconformities may lead to immediate suspension, so we will require you to respond quickly. In such cases you may want to respond quickly as well, since you will no longer have a certificate, which may in turn interfere with your business activities.
In solving nonconformities, we will expect you to solve the problem and to send us proof of this within an agreed timeframe. Management system assessments and food safety assessments also require you to do a root cause investigation and to determine the extent of the problem. In general, you are required to solve the immediate problem (e.g. ‘fix the hole in the wall’) and make sure it cannot recur (e.g. ‘stop the trolley from banging into the wall and making a hole’). For that, the concepts of extent and root cause analyses are applied. A root cause analysis means that you have to ask yourself what the actual underlying problem is. One way to do that is to ask you why this problem occurred. For instance: ‘why do these tiles fall of the wall’?. Answer: ‘because the door slams shut with a bang every now and again’. Then you ask the same why question again: ‘why does the door slam’? Answer: ‘because the wind can freely play with it’. In general, you should ask yourself why five times, although you may reach your conclusion earlier than that. To determine the extent of the problem, you have to ask yourself: ‘I have this problem here. Can I have the same or a similar problem elsewhere or is it likely that this course of the problem also affects other areas in my business’? If the answer is yes, you do have more to solve.
If you fail to provide CUC with evidence that you solved the nonconformity within the agreed period of time, we will give it the next higher grading. So a minor nonconformity will become a major and a major nonconformity will become a critical and may lead to suspension. You will be given the period of time set for that grade of nonconformity to still resolve the problem. If not, your certificate may be (temporarily) suspended and eventually may even be withdrawn altogether.
However, if you provide evidence as required, we will make an assessment whether we find your solution sufficient or not. In many cases, a document review may be sufficient, but it may also be that we need to assess the situation on the floor in your company to be able to establish that everything has been taken care of. Once we have found that all nonconformities have been properly managed and solved, we will either decide that you are awarded a certificate stating that you comply, or decide that there is no need to suspend the certificate that is already in place.
We will issue a certificate after having gone through the process as described above and come to the conclusion that your product, process or organisation complies with requirements. The very first certificate that we issue to you for a specific programme is based on what we call an initial audit. This is the baseline audit and tends to be more extensive and therefore longer than other audits. The certificate will normally have a validity period, in many cases of 3 years. Some programmes have a shorter validity of 1 year, some have a longer validity. In the year that the validity of the certificate expires, we will have to do a re-certification audit, in which we again determine whether or not we can issue you a new certificate. Again this is a more important audit and can therefore be longer than other audits. Between recertification audits we perform so-called surveillance audits. These are meant to establish that your product, process or organisation remains in compliance, but does not require a certification decision. Be aware though that, based on our findings in a surveillance audit, we may come to the conclusion to revoke the certificate based on findings that severely impact the performance of the quality system.
For your information, the certificate always remains the property of the certification body. Meaning that, if we find the need to do so, we have the power to revoke the certificate – we simply reclaim what is our property.
In the process of an audit we may have to take samples. These are used to verify that your product is indeed in compliance with specifications. We are required to send these samples to a laboratory that is accredited to the ISO 17025 standard. We will take a sample an divide it into three parts. One part will be given to you to store as a counter sample (which we may need to use in specific situations at a later stage), one part will be sent to the laboratory and the third part will be kept by us, also as a counter sample.