The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), a holistic standard that sets comprehensive and strict requirements to ensure transparent and traceable processing for organic textiles from field to finished product, has significantly raised the requirements for GOTS-certified cotton gins.
These include introducing a compulsory farm-gin registry for all farms and farm groups whose certified raw material enters the GOTS system, including information on farm yields. The registry will be implemented progressively, starting in India.
In addition, raw cotton is not allowed to travel more than 500 kilometers from the farm to the certified gin. GOTS said the shorter trade chain protects vulnerable points and optimizes the process for buyers. The third element involves an increase in unannounced audits of gins where there is a high perception of risk.
GOTS said these new requirements are added to the numerous checks and balances 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 pesticide residue and are authorized to reject material that does not meet GOTS 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 for raw material, including region, state and province. This effectively traces material back to the field and adds another layer of accountability to GOTS-certified fiber. 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,” GOTS managing director Rahul Bhajekar said. “We are looking forward to these new rules further strengthening GOTS against potential fraud.”
GOTS is also coordinating efforts with other key players to support the integrity of organic textiles. As GOTS provides certification of first processing stages to Textile Exchange’s Organic Content Standard (OCS), the two organizations discussed new requirements for OCS while 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, which are among the main objectives of GOTS. 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 fiber such as organic cotton and organic wool, and includes environmental and social criteria. Key provisions include a ban on the use of genetically GMOs, highly hazardous chemicals and child labor, while requiring strong social compliance management systems and strict wastewater treatment practices.