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Shirtworks completes extensive audit of garment production best practice
Dec '09
Shirtworks, one of the UK's leading promotional garment printing and embroidery companies, has released details of an internal audit demonstrating the extent of change resulting from the commitment to gaining accreditation by the Soil Association. Shirtworks was recently awarded accreditation, making it the only certified organic garment embroidery company in Europe.

The internal audit has revealed fundamental changes in packaging policy, sourcing of organic and ethically produced materials throughout the entire supply chain and the implementation of new garment production systems required to meet the Soil Association's exacting standards.

"We carried out an internal evaluation to examine the effect the Soil Association accreditation has had on the way Shirtworks produces promotional garments, and we were quite surprised by the impact this accreditation has had," commented Arron Harnden, MD of Shirtworks.

"From start to finish, the process of changing our garment printing and embroidery systems to meet their stringent requirements took a whole year, and this is the first opportunity we've had since gaining the accreditation to take a step back and really examine how it has changed us as a business. The Soil Association accreditation is very hard to obtain, one of the reasons why we are the only garment embroidery company in Europe to have earned it I suppose, and one of the reasons is the sheer level of detail that needs to be addressed across several different areas."

"There are three key areas of our garment production and order fulfillment that have been most affected," Arron explained. "These are packaging, production organisation and material sourcing. In terms of packaging, we have cut out all unnecessary packaging and strive not to use any kind of plastic when we do need to use packaging. With regards to the production organisation, we have restructured the production process to ensure that the organic garments never come into contact with any non-organic garments, materials, or areas in which they've been handled."

When asked why this is necessary, Arron replied; "It's akin to the way a kitchen would keep meat preparation separate to areas in which vegetarian meals are produced. Finally the sourcing of materials has completely changed as a result of the accreditation, and this requirement was one of the most challenging and time-consuming to satisfy as we had to make sure that embroidery threads, backing material and the entire supply chain met with Soil Association standards. It was a demanding year of changes, but it was worth it," Arron concluded. "I can safely say that Shirtworks has more corporate and social responsibility than we did two years ago, and that the spirit of the accreditation has spread into all areas of our business, not just the organic and ethically produced garments."


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