The comprehensive and strict requirements of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) ensure transparent and traceable processing for organic textiles from field to finished product.
With firm restrictions on raw materials and a clearly defined set of social and environmental criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain, GOTS brings integrity to organic products. To further improve the system, GOTS is significantly raising its requirements for certified gins.
Firtsly, a compulsory farm-gin registry for all farms and farm groups whose certified raw material enters the GOTS system is being introduced, including information on farm yields. The registry will be implemented progressively, starting in India.
Raw cotton will also not be allowed to travel more than 500km from the farm to the certified gin. The shorter trade chain will protect vulnerable points and optimise the process for buyers. GOTS also intends to increase its number of unannounced gin audits where there is a high perception of risk.
Checks and balances: These new requirements are to be added to the numerous checks and balances which are already performed throughout every processing stage. Seed cotton entering the GOTS supply chain is tested for the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) according to the applicable ISO protocol. GOTS-approved certification bodies include further testing (such as for pesticide residue) and are fully authorised to reject material that does not meet requirements. Additionally, before certification bodies issue a transaction certificate (TC), GOTS requires that a thorough assessment takes place, including a plausibility check in the form of volume reconciliation.
To strengthen integrity and traceability, GOTS also stipulates that the Farm TC number appears on the first GOTS TC at the ginning plant, which is the first step for cotton in the GOTS supply chain. The TC must state the origin of the raw material, including region, state, and province. This effectively traces material back to the field and adds another layer of accountability to certified fibre. It also supports all buyers in their purchasing decisions.
“GOTS has always been a dynamic standard, developing and expanding to be stronger and more effective all the time,” says Managing Director Rahul Bhajekar. “We are looking forward to these new rules further strengthening GOTS against potential fraud.”
Coordination: GOTS is not only improving its own system but also coordinating efforts with other key players to support the integrity of organic textiles. Because it provides certification of the first processing stages to the Textile Exchange Organic Content Standard (OCS), the two organisations have discussed new requirements for OCS as they were being developed. GOTS supports these requirements as they provide a dual protection shield for materials entering the GOTS or OCS supply chains, at the same time maintaining necessary data privacy. The new requirements will help increase traceability and transparency throughout the organic textile sector. There are no changes necessary to the requirements of GOTS regarding any of the new OCS rules.
GOTS is the stringent voluntary global standard for the entire post-harvest processing (including spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing) of apparel and home textiles made with certified organic fibre (such as organic cotton and organic wool), and includes both environmental and social criteria.
Key provisions include a ban on the use of GMOs, highly hazardous chemicals (such as azo dyes and formaldehyde), and child labour, while requiring strong social compliance management systems and strict waste water treatment practices. GOTS was developed by leading international standard setters – the Organic Trade Association (USA), the Japan Organic Cotton Association, the International Association Natural Textile Industry (Germany) and the Soil Association (UK).