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NSF International Adds Sustainable Certifications for the Apparel Industry

NSF International, a U.S.-based organization that inspects and certifies consumer products,  is promoting transparency and expanding its compliance footprint with three new sustainable apparel certifications.

On Monday, NSF announced that it is now the approved certification body for three additional Textile Exchange standards—recycled and organic content, traceable down and responsible wool. The new certifications will help brands strengthen their commitment to supply chain transparency and enable consumers to visualize products’ journeys from sourcing to store shelves.

“We now offer a full range of sustainable third-party certifications including recycled and organic content, traceable down and responsible wool,” said Jenny Oorbeck, general manager of sustainability at NSF International. “We apply NSF International’s 70-plus years of certification expertise, global presence and quality to help the textile, footwear and apparel industries improve their sustainability, traceability and transparency.”

NSF International’s full responsible textile certification portfolio now spans four certifications—recycled content, organic content, responsible wool and traceable down. Textile Exchange’s Content Claim Standard (CCS) serves as the foundation for the sustainable standards and verifies the presence of raw materials in final products through independent auditing.

The Textile Exchange Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) is a chain of custody standard for brands, manufacturers, organizations, recyclers and retailers that verifies the presence of recycled materials in their final products. Using the Content Claim Standard’s (CCS) chain of custody requirements, the RCS enables consistent, comprehensive and transparent independent evaluation of final products’ recycled material content claims. NSF International’s Global Recycling Standard (GRS) also verifies responsible chemical, environmental and social practices in the manufacturing of both intermediate and finished products that contain a minimum of 20 percent recycled material.

[Read more on NSF International’s compliance efforts: NSF International Certifies First US Farm for Down Traceability]

For organic content, the Textile Exchange Organic Cotton Standard (OCS) provides third-party verification of organic material content in products. This standard addresses raw material verification throughout the harvest, processing and manufacturing activities—however, it only ensures the content of organic material in final products, not certification of the raw material itself. Products that are evaluated with the OCS must contain 5 percent to 100 percent of the claimed raw material and NSF International audits companies’ systems to effectively manage raw material claims for products.

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Products that claim to contain responsible wool fall under the Textile Exchange Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), which fosters transparency in the wool supply chain—ensuring that wool in clothing comes from a responsible source that respects animal welfare and sustainable agricultural practices. Under RWS, all sites that handle wool (excluding retailers who are not required to be certified) are certified from farms to final manufacturers. Only products that contain 100 percent certified wool may be labeled with the consumer-facing RWS logo.

Established by NSF International, the Global Traceable Down Standard (Global TDS) verifies that down in garments derives from a responsible source that is transparent and respects animal welfare. This standard includes parent farms in the auditing process, due to the risk of live plucking and other potential violations. Certification is provided both at the product level and to the full supply chain, since the standard says down is a byproduct of the food industry.