WHAT DO ALL THESE CERTIFICATIONS EVEN MEAN?
Fashion is a complex industry. How do you know what you buy is not sourced from a harmful place or made inhumanely? Enter: Certifications!
Like the food industry certifications exist in fashion to ensure things are actually what they seem: organic, made fairly, etc. But unlike the food industry there is no umbrella certification for “organic” or “Fairtrade.” And these certifications are not enforced by any government. They are completely voluntary and cost brands and suppliers significant fees. To make matters more confusing, there are over three dozen independent certification organizations with different functions and missions.
Still, certifications are an important tool to verify that what is advertised is true. At AMENDI we aim to work with partners who have earned the most renowned and reputable certifications. You can find a brief summary of each certification we work under by visiting www.amendi.com/traceability, and scrolling past the traceability map.
Below, you will find a little more detail about each certification and what they mean. These certification programs aren’t perfect, but they are an important step in guaranteeing what we say is true. After you read and explore please send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org!
1.) GOTS or the Global Organic Textile Standard is a private conglomerate that was formed in Germany in 2002. GOTS describes its mission as:
“…the development, implementation, verification, protection, and promotion of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This standard stipulates requirements throughout the supply chain for both ecology and labor conditions in textile and apparel manufacturing using organically produced raw materials. Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic, persistent pesticides and fertilizers. In addition, organic production relies on adequate animal husbandry and excludes genetic modification”
GOTS is generally considered the world leading standard for textiles made from organic fibers. Its criteria are broad and high-level and ambitious and includes social standards.
2.) GRS or the Global Recycle Standard is controlled by Textile Exchange, a part of IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements). Textile Exchange writes that its mission is:
“…to accelerate sustainable practices in the textile industry. This acceleration only happens when steps have been taken to ensure that actions taken toward sustainability result in real and meaningful change. This requires a strong understanding of the issues and a plan to substantiate the claims being made.”
In the Global Recycled Standard 4.0 edition its objectives are listed as:
• Alignment of definitions across multiple applications
• Track and trace recycled input materials
• Provide customers (both brands and consumers) with a tool to make informed decisions
• Reduce harmful impact of production to people and the environment
• Provide assurance that materials in the final product are actually recycled and processed more sustainably
• Drive innovation in addressing quality issues in the use of recycled materials
You can read the entire Global Recycled Standard v4.0 by clicking here.
Or, if you have some time, you can watch the two-part webinar on you tube here and here.
3.)SEDEX or The Supplier Ethical Data Exchange is a non-profit organization founded in 2001 by a group of UK Retailers who wanted to standardize supplier monitoring practices. SMETA or Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit was created by SEDEX to standardize auditing practices and make the open sharing of audits of suppliers more efficient through a verified supplier network. Their goal is to promote and verify responsible, ethical business practices.
SEDEX describes themselves as:
“one of the world’s leading ethical trade service providers, working to improve working conditions in global supply chains…SEDEX has over 60,000 members in 180 countries, across 35 industry sectors, including food, agriculture, financial services, clothing and apparel, packaging, and chemicals…SEDEX has over 15 years of expertise operating in responsible sourcing and work with some of the world’s most recognizable brands and standard setting organizations, such as the United Nations and Ethical Trade Initiative.
For a brief idea of what SEDEX does check out this video here.
For more in-depth information check out the SEDEX website: www.sedexglobal.com
4.) BSCI or the Business Social Compliance Initiative was developed and is controlled by amfori. Amfori, originally The Foreign Trade Association, was founded in 1977 in Brussels, Belgium with the intention to represent the interests of European businesses. The BSCI is primarily a social initiative that consolidates social standards for workers across multiple supplier networks so that those standards can be collectively upheld, managed, shared, and critiqued. The BSCI enforces 11 principles outlined in their Code of Conduct. These principles range from no child labor, to collective bargaining rights, to anti-corruption and discrimination initiatives.
To learn more about BSCI check out this short video here.
You can read BSCI’s 11 Principles and their Code of Conduct here.
And for more information visit the amorfi website: www.amfori.org/content/amfori-bsci.
5.) OEKO-TEX was founded in 1992 by 18 independent research and test institutes in Europe and Japan. They primarily oversee ecological standards and test and regulate the use of harmful substances in production, from yarn to the final product.
OEKO-TEX defines their STANDARD 100 certification this way:
“you can be certain that every component of this article (with STANDARD 100 certification), i.e. every thread, button and other accessories, has been tested for harmful substances and that the article therefore is harmless in human ecological terms…”
For more information on OEKO-TEX visit their website: https://www.oeko-tex.com/en/.
For more information on the STANDARD 100 certificate check out this short video here or read more by clicking here
6.) OCS 100 or the Organic Cotton Standard is a certification created and controlled by Textile Exchange, a non-profit organization that is “committed to the responsible expansion of both organic cotton and all other sustainable textile value chains.” (www.textileexchange.org)
The OCS 100 was created to standardize claims of organic cotton. “(the OCS 100) tracks the flow of a raw material from the source to the final product and this process is certified by an accredited third party.”
The OCS 100 only verifies the authenticity of the organic cotton product (at least 95%) and does not include certain social or environmental criteria. The OCS100 is seen as a milestone for a company who seeks to become GOTS certified (which you can read more about above).
For more details about the OCS 100 you can read the full scope here.
7.) ISO 5001 & ISO 14001 were created and are distributed by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO).
ISO describes itself as:
“…an independent non-governmental organization with a membership of 164 national standards bodies. Through its members, it brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.”
To learn more about ISO watch the short video here.
ISO 5001 is a standard which guides a company to create and manage an Energy Management Systems toward constant optimization and efficiency.
From the ISO website:
“ISO 50001:2018 provides a framework of requirements for organizations to:
• Develop a policy for more efficient use of energy
• Fix targets and objectives to meet the policy
• Use data to better understand and make decisions about energy use
• Measure the results
• Review how well the policy works, and
• Continually improve energy management.”
To learn more about the ISO 5001 check out the website here.
ISO 5001 and ISO 14001 are often used as complementing standards. While ISO 5001 focuses specifically on energy, ISO 14001 focuses on environmental impact.
ISO 14001 is a standard which maps the framework for a company’s Environment Management System. The standards relate waste management, water management, and more. The requirements set forth in ISO 14001 were used to develop the European Union’s EMAS or Eco-Management and Audit Scheme. Like the ISO 5001 standard, the ISO 14001 was developed with a perpetual self-improvement method in mind.
Some Key Benefits listed for a company to utilize ISO 14001 are:
• “achieve strategic business aims by incorporating environmental issues into business management
• Provide a competitive and a financial advantage through improved efficiencies and reduced costs
• Encourage better environmental performance by suppliers…” (www.ISO.org)
To read all about ISO 14001 key benefits click here.
To learn more about ISO14001 watch the short video here.