Smarter Business: Standards & Metrics
Global Organic Textile Standard
In 2002, the International Working Group (IWG), comprised of four reputable standard organizations, established the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) at the Intercot Conference in Düsseldorf, Germany. The GOTS certification system was launched four years later and is now recognized worldwide as the leading processing standard for organic fiber textiles. The GOTS Technical Committee certifies and labels products according to both social criteria (based on the International Labour Organisation’s standards) and stringent environmental criteria that take into account the entire textile supply. GOTS also aims to provide textile processors and manufacturers with one organic textile certification that is accepted and recognized in all major markets.
GOTS certifies products such as clothes, fiber products, yarns, and home textiles, but currently excludes leather items. The standard is based on many detailed criteria that regulate the entire production process, including manufacturing, processing, packaging, labeling, trading and distribution of textiles. All textiles must be made from at least 70 percent certified organic natural fibers to achieve a “made with organic” GOTS label, while 95 percent certified organic natural fibers is required for an “organic” label.
Textile processing, manufacturing and trading entities can apply for certification. For a successful application, follow these main steps: (1) identify the requirements of the standard; (2) establish and implement activities in conformity with GOTS; and (3) contact a Certification Body to submit the application for certification. Note that certification fees vary and are determined by the type of operation, the products produced, and/or services provided. Furthermore, the GOTS review process is a continuous one with formal standard revisions aproximately every two to three years.
Pros & Cons
- Besides being a positive ethical choice, ecological production and sustainable sourcing via the GOTS label can lead to some important and strategic business benefits. These include:
- helping comply with existing legislation by reducing environmental impact;
- increasing revenue by enhancing the company image for environmentally aware customers or end users; and
- attracting investors who work to environmental or ethical principles efficiently.
- GOTS is a globally recognized label endorsed by the USDA’s National Organic Program (a member of the IWG).
The GOTS Standard does not directly address the carbon footprint of an organization or its production practices. However, it does regulate volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The SMaRT standard, which also certifies textiles, does address carbon foot printing as well as 1,300 chemicals.
Use this guide for implementing the detailed GOTS criteria (PDF).
Learn more about the latest version (3.0) of the GOTS standard (PDF).
Review this chart of green textile standards, produced by the Sustainable Furnishing Council.
Learn about the GOTS using NRDC’s Label Lookup.
last revised 6/16/2011