In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it presents, Oeko-Tex has been able to expand its mission of providing transparency along the textile and leather production chains, as well as offering consumer protection and the guarantee of greater safety and confidence.
The Zurich-based organization said Monday in issuing its annual report that the number of certificates and labels it issued rose from 21,454 to 24,205 between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, an increase of 13 percent. The focus was largely on the Made in Green by Oeko-Tex label, which saw growth of 115 percent from 1,304 to the current 2,808 valid labels in the financial year 2019/2020.
The numbers of other Oeko-Tex labels, such as Standard 100 and Leather Standard by Oeko-Tex also continued to grow year over year. Newly issued certificates STeP by Oeko-Tex, the certification system for production facilities with environmentally friendly processes and safe and socially responsible working conditions, increased by 55 percent to 475 valid certificates worldwide. More than 470,000 people are currently employed in STeP-certified production facilities.
Detox to Zero was added as mandatory requirement for STeP facilities to support customers optimizing and monitoring their chemical management and wastewater quality. It helps the textile and leather supply chain to avoid the use of toxic chemicals and prevent water pollution, which benefits both people and environment.
A major advantage of the latest update is the future conformity of STeP with the MRSL of the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) In addition, STeP became part of ITC Sustainability Maps, a platform that enables users to better understand the sustainability landscape and to connect with business partners.
“The textile industry faces wide-reaching change and, as a result, the Oeko-Tex Association, as adviser and partner, is in greater demand than ever before,” Georg Dieners, secretary general of the organization, said in the annual report. “In the future, consumers will be thinking a lot more carefully about how and what they are buying. To simplify these purchase decisions, it is up to the brands to communicate end-to-end transparency.”
Dieners said the industry needs to work together to change existing consumption and production patterns to keep the planet’s resources intact and ensure a life for future generations.
“During the single biggest challenge we have faced in recent decades, Oeko-Tex has made every effort to continue with certification and avoid supply chain interruptions,” the organization said. “Existing certificate renewals were temporarily processed without samples to give certificate owners three additional months to gather samples for testing. To provide people all over the world with mouth and nose masks that are safe from harmful substances, the Oeko-Tex Association waived the license fee for certification of masks.”
Between April and June, more than 50 manufacturers of face masks obtained certification according to Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex. Standard 100 now accepts an additional test method for detecting GMOs in cotton and cotton products.
To create a uniform and clear message, Oeko-Tex’s web site was redesigned, optimized and successfully relaunched in August 2019. This allowed businesses and consumers to find the more prominently placed Label Check, a tool for checking the validity of Oeko-Tex labels. The improved myOeko-Tex customer management platform was launched for certificate applications and management.
Oeko also significantly increased its communication on social media by adding WeChat in China and has also recorded growth in its other channels.