Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 September 2016 14:06
Starting point of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) development was the Intercot Conference 2002 in Düsseldorf (Germany), where a workshop was launched with representatives of organic cotton producers, the textile industry, consumers as well as standard organisations and certifiers who discussed the need for a harmonised and world-wide recognised organic textile standard. At that time numerous different standards and draft standards existed in the niche market of organic textiles. The different standards caused confusion with (the few) producers, retailers and consumers who were interested in this field and they were an obstacle to international exchange and recognition of organic textiles.
As a concrete result of the workshop the International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard (IWG) was founded with the aim to continuously work on harmonisation of the various regional approaches and to develop a set of Global Standards.
Since 2002 quite a number of organisations and experts have periodically participated in this work. A big portion of the ability to compromise was needed to find even consensus for points that were considered to be 'non-negotiable' and not all standard organisations that participated the process ended up with signing the agreement of the Working Group.
The following overview summarises the main steps in this development of the GOTS system:
|August 2002, Intercot, Düsseldorf||Presentation of a synopsis of leading organic textile standards at the workshop 'Global Standards', formation of the International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard|
|July 2004, InNaTex, Wallau||Four standard organisations - IVN, OTA, Soil Association and JOCA - sign the ‚Agreement‘, which defines the common approach as well as the decisive and implementation procedures|
|May 2005, Intercot, Chicago||The four organisations agree on the 1st Version of the Global Organic Textile Standard and its implementation scheme|
|October 2006||The GOTS certification system gets started|
|June 2008, IFOAM Conference, Modena||The currently valid version 2.0 of the GOTS and the GOTS label are introduced to the public|
|August 2008||Foundation of the Global Standard GmbH, which is the operating unit of the IWG, charged with executing the Global Organic Textile Standard Program|
|December 2008||Introduction of the ‘Manual for the Implementation of GOTS’ that provides for official interpretation guidance and clarifications for specific GOTS criteria|
|December 2008||Almost 2000 facilities are certified according to GOTS|
|May 2009||The ‘Approval Procedure and Requirements for Certification Bodies’ defining GOTS specific accreditation requirements is released|
|June 2009||The ‘Licensing and Labelling Guide’ containing the final licence conditions is published|
|January 2010||More than 2800 facilities are GOTS certified, 12 certification bodies are approved to offer GOTS certification|
|March 2010||A public data base containing the GOTS certified entities and their product groups is introduced on the on the re-launched website|
|March 2011||Version 3.0 of GOTS is published|
|January 2013||For the first time more than 3000 facilities are GOTS certified|
|March 2014||Version 4.0 of GOTS is published|
Taking into account the demand from the retail market to show their compliance with GOTS by an associated logo on the certified garments, the International Working Group, constituted of its four member organisations IVN, OTA, Soil Association and Joca has developed such a label and decided on its usage and on the main features of the corresponding licensing system on its meeting at Biofach in February 2008. During the IFOAM textile conference in Modena Italy, June 2008, the label was for the first time presented to the public.
Since its introduction in 2006 by the International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard, the GOTS has gained universal recognition, led to abolishment of numerous previous similar standards of limited application and has become - with more than 3000 certified textile processing, manufacturing and trading operators in more than 60 countries and an abundance of certified products - the leading standard for the processing of textile goods using organic fibres, including environmentally oriented technical as well as social criteria.
After the enormous growth of certified facilities between 2006 and 2009 (2006: 27 certified facilities, 2008: 1977, 2009: 2811) a consolidation phase was recognised in 2010 with a total number of 2754 certified facilities at the end of 2010. Beside the economic difficulties the textile industry had to face in general not the least the introduction of the public data base early 2010 (that had more than 120.000 search requests in 2010 already) led to the effect that brands, retailers and their wholesalers first looked up for suppliers that are actually certified before they considered requesting certification to new supply chains. Accordingly an effect has been noted that already certified entities receive in average more orders for certified textiles compared to the years before. However this trend cannot be quantified as the corresponding solid statistical data are not available. Since 2012 the number of certified facilities is growing again. A reason is that licensees worldwide get more orders and more diverse orders for GOTS, accordingly they apply certification for more production lines, processors and manufacturers. In 2014 3663 facilities were certified to GOTS in 64 countries which is an increase of 18% compare to 2013.
The entities participating in the certification system include processing, manufacturing as well trading companies of the entire textile supply chain from small-scale units up to the largest vertical integrated enterprises mainly producing for the North American, European and Japanese sales markets. Beside the members of the four IWG parties an enormous demand is especially created by leading retailers and brands in garments that are produced and certified according to the GOTS. The first large-scale enterprise that committed towards the GOTS was the US based and word-wide largest retailer Wal-Mart followed by various competitors and brands.
Beside the technical requirements a certifier has to meet to become approved by the IWG for GOTS certification, it is also a prerequisite that he discontinues to certify according to an own standard. This measure was chosen to support the goal of a harmonised Global Standard and related certification system that allows certified suppliers to export their organic textiles with one certificate recognised in all relevant sales markets in order to strengthen the awareness and market for organic textiles. Resulting not only the standards of the four IWG member organisations but also any previous organic textile standards of Approved Certification Bodies got unified under GOTS.
Concretely the following standards became completely harmonised with GOTS:
One member of the IWG offers beside GOTS as their basic standard one further standard for certification that complies with GOTS but contains some additional requirements:
To date seventeen certifiers are approved under the GOTS scheme assuring applicants worldwide accessibility to the certification system. Contact details off all approved certifiers are listed in the section 'Approved Certification Bodies'.
The global mechanism in the textile industry needed a common approach of leading standard setters in the niche market of organic textiles to create a considerable awareness in the retail market and to the end consumer. With IVN, Soil Association, OTA and Japan Organic Cotton Association four nameable organisations have taken the responsibility and committed to implement this standard in their schemes. Supported by the remarkable growth in consumption of organic fibre (especially cotton) worldwide the Global Organic Textile Standard is in an excellent position to become the benchmark for an international common understanding of environmental friendly production systems and social accountability in the organic textile sector. The International Working Group will further do its best to establish the GOTS approach as a transparent and reliable system, where the industry and consumers can count on.