GOTS Version 6.0 Ensures Stricter Social, Environmental Compliance

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Sumit Gupta, Deputy Director Standards Development & Quality Assurance, GOTS

The new GOTS version 6.0 was released on March 19, 2020. The approach of the revision process, undertaken every three years, is to set stricter ecological and social criteria while maintaining relevance of the Global Organic Textile Standard. International stakeholders with expertise in the field of organic production, textile processing, textile chemistry, and social criteria and industry representatives, NGOs and consumer organizations contributed to the new version 6.0, throughout the last year in several consultation rounds. The complete list of stakeholders invited to contribute and the revision timetable are available here.

GOTS defines worldwide recognized requirements that ensure third party certified organic status of textiles with full traceability from field to finished product. With this aim in mind, key requirements such as certified organic fibre content, the general ban on toxic and harmful chemicals, conventional cotton and virgin polyester as well as the social compliance management have been maintained, while several other criteria became stricter.

When it comes to GOTS Environmental Criteria, Product Stewardship and Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) audit requirements have been introduced for approved chemical formulators. The newly released test protocol ISO / IWA 32:2019 for GM screening of cotton serves as the recognized screening method of GMO presence.

The new version withdraws the relaxation for the additional regenerated and virgin synthetic fibre content for socks, leggings and sportswear. Additionally, product quality standards for colourfastness and dimensional stability are now mandatory. Specific new requirements for tampons and food contact textiles have been included.

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Regarding GOTS social criteria, GOTS included more dynamic elements: Certified entities will now have to calculate the gap of actually paid wages to ‘living wages’ (according to recognized calculation methods). Furthermore, they will be encouraged to work towards closing this gap. Specific references to OECD Due Diligence Guidance and Good Practice Guidance for Social Criteria and Risk Assessment as well as Ethical Business Practices have been explicitly included.

“The GOTS Version 6.0 progressively furthers our mission. Pursuant to one of the most prolific comment periods in its revision history, GOTS continues to mature in scope, following keen consultations within the GOTS Standards Committee, external experts and inputs from stakeholders. I am delighted with the outcome of these deliberations and am confident that GOTS will continue to remain in the leading position that it is,” said Rahul Bhajekar, GOTS Managing Director and Coordinator Standards Committee.

The transition period for users of GOTS to fully comply with the new version will be one year. The standard version and the corresponding implementation manual, as well as the list of changes, are available on the website and can be downloaded.

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Compliance to GOTS Version 6.0 by 1stMarch, 2021
According to Sumit Gupta, Deputy Director Standards Development & Quality Assurance, GOTS,  “The latest version of GOTS is based on international developments in the field of sustainable textiles processing, in getting closer to living wages, etc. A Scope Certificate issued as per GOTS Version 6.0 shall demonstrate compliance to these latest international requirements.”

Complying with all the requirements of GOTS Version 6.0 before 1stMarch 2021 is a mandatory requirement. Those who are unable to comply willnot be able to renew their certificates. GOTS acknowledges the challenge of upgrading during the pandemic. And has therefore allowed Certification Bodies to extend Scope Certificates by three months where an onsite inspection is not possible. Besides, during the implementation period, Scope Certificate may be issued according to version 5.0. However, all Certified Entities will have to implement all requirements of GOTS Version 6.0 before 1stMarch 2021.

Importance of GOTS certification is increasing
“Besides use of organic fibres, GOTS certification stands for environmentally and socially responsible processing, which is applicable for the whole facility for the whole year. With more stringent requirements on effluent testing, green house gases, migrant workers, ethical business behaviour, etc., GOTS is going to become even more demanded in the international market. And Certified Entities realise the importance of the upgraded GOTS versions, which shows their commitment to creating a more sustainable textile industry,” stressed Gupta.

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Companies realise the importance of GOTS certifications, and are thus ready to invest time and effort to upgrade.

Suppliers of chemical inputs will need the highest amount of efforts for version 6.0, since product stewardship and onsite audit for environment, health and safety are now mandatory requirements. For textile companies, there have been a higher number of changes with respect to wet processing operations as compared to manufacturing, which is only a mechanical process. But there have been significant updates in sections on social criteria and ethical business behaviour, which all textile companies will need to work towards.

“The required efforts shall vary for different companies. If you are already ahead of the curve, it may be easy for you as compared to your competitors,” concludes Gupta.

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