Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) | Certification Steps and Requirements

Posted by Firoz Kabir on Friday, March 1, 2019 0

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is globally recognized standard for organic status of whole textile supply chain that limits the use of toxic substances, dyes and other chemicals inputs during the entire production processes of textiles. It is toughest standard giving organization of textile which is comprised of 4 leading member organizations namely OTA (USA), IVN (Germany), Soil Association (UK) and JOCA (Japan). 

It has demonstrated practical feasibility of organic textiles since it was introduced in the year 2006. GOTS ensure the organic criteria of textile supply chain from the harvesting of the raw materials through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing all the way to labeling in accordance with providing the credible commitments to the customer.

It is the main goal of GOTS that end customer will believe the textiles have organic status when it is labelled by GOTS. This leading standard covers the harvesting of fibers and its processing, all kind of manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading and distribution of all kind of textile made from certified organic fibers.

This standard appreciates to produce any textiles in an individual way without the use of chemical inputs, the approach is to define criteria for low impact and residual natural or synthetic chemicals such as dyestuff, auxiliaries and finishes. GOTS sets requirements on working and social conditions that are equivalent to those of leading social sustainability standards. As the standard is also applied and monitored for entities in countries with developed and effectively applied social and labour legislation and collective agreements between employers and trade unions that conform with the universal standards of the international labour organization (ILO).

This certificate is accepted by all major markets in the world therefore the textile processors and manufacturers are enabled to buy and sell product with organic status to those markets.

There are two types of GOTS status as below-

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.

Assesment of Chemical inputs: All chemical inputs intended to be used to process GOTS goods are subjected to approval by a GOTS approved certifier ahead of thei usage. The following table lists chemical inputs that may be potentially used in conventional textile processing but that are explicitly prohibitted or retricted for environmental and toxicological reasons in all processing stages of GOTS labelled products.

Textile Fibers: GOTS accept the certification of fiber that claims organic status from IFOAM,USDA, National Organic Program (NOP), APEDA's National Program for Organic Production (NPOP), China Organic Standard GB/T19630. The certification body must have a valid and recognized accreditation for the standard it certifies against. Recognised accreditation are ISO 17065 accreditation, NOP accreditation, IFOAM accreditation and IFOAM Global Organic System accreditation.

Fiber Spinning: Yarn manufacturing by spinning allo the additives which meet the basic requirements as set by GOTS with the indication of prohibited chemical/processing involves. Any paraffin products used must be fully refined with a limited value of residual oil of 0.5%.

Sizing and Weaving/Knitting:
Here allowed sizing agents are all natural base as synthetic sizing materials are restricted with the exception of some special products. Allowed sizing materials include starch and its derivatives, other natural substances and CMC (Carboxy methyle Cellulose).

In case of any synthetic size materials can be used for no more than 25% of the total sizing in combination with natural substances only.

Knitting/weaving oils must not contain heavy metals, other inputs must be derived from natural source only.

Non Woven Manufacturing: Allowed non-woven manufacturing processing includes only mechanical compaction, webbing and entangling such as hydro entanglement.

Pre-treatments and other wet processing stages:
The chemicals inputs must meet the basic requirements sets by GOTS and must avoid prohibited or restricted chemicals. 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.

  • Ammonia Treatment - Prohibited
  • Bleaches - Only oxygen base bleaches are allowed such as peroxides, ozone etc.
  • Washing - Detergents must not contain phosphates
  • Chlorination of Wools - Prohibited
  • Desizing - Allowed are GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) free enzymatic desizing and other auxiliaries.
  • Mechanical/Thermal Treatments - Allowed
  • Mercerizatin - Alkali must be recycled.

Dyeing/Printing: Selection of dyes and auxiliaries are restricted by GOTS. Allowed are natural dyes, synthetic dyes, pigments and auxiliaries that meet the basic requirements set BY GOTS. Dyes that are prone to allergic are prohibited such as disperse dye. Dyes containing heavy metals are prohibited. Some specific except for copper that permits up to 5% per weight in blue, green and turquoise dyestuff.

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

Additional Fiber Materials(Max 5% for organic label and 30% for made with organic label):
  • Conventional natural fibers except conventional cotton and angora hair.
  • Regenerated fibers from certified organic raw materials which are non - GMO.
  • Regenerated fibers like viscose or modal
  • Recycled synthetic fibers from pre or post consumer waste.
  • Virgin synthetic or polymer fibers
  • Stainless steel fibers and minerla fibers with exception of asbestos, carbon and silver fibers

Trims and Accessories: For any kind of trims or accessories allowed are natural materials including biotic material such as natural fiber, wood, leather, horn, bone, shell and non biotic material such as minerals, metals, stone. Also regenerated and synthetic materials are allowed in some cases.

Effluent Treatment Plant(ETP): Wastewater from all wet processing units must be treated in an internal or external functional wastewater treatment plant before discharging to environment. The applicable national and local legal requirements for waste water treatment including limit values with regard to pH, temperature, TOC< BOD, CODm color removal, residues of pollutans and discharge routes must be fulfilled. The treated water must not exceed 20gm COD/g of processed textile.

Storage, Packaging and Transport: Organic textile products must be stored and transported in such a manner as to prevent contamination by prohibited substances with conventional products of substitution of the contents.  Packaging material must not contain chlorinated plastics . e.g. PVC.

Social Criteria:
  • Employment should be freely chosen
  • Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected
  • No Child labour
  • No discrimination
  • Working conditions are to be safe and hygienic
  • Fair remuneration
  • Working hours are not excessive
  • No Precarious employment is provided
  • Harsh or inhumane behaviour is prohibited
  • Social compliance management
  • Ethical business behaviour
Quality Assurance system:

GOTS certification needs at least an annual turnover of GOTS labelled product equal or more than 5000 euro.It contains on site inspection process that however be performed at least for the first year and every 3rd year of granted certification. To apply for the certifcation you can visit GOTS website.

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About the Author

Md. Firoz Kabir(M.Sc in Textile Engineering)

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