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Oeko-Tex revises criteria for Step certification
Feb '16
In the latest version (3.0) of the Step standard, Oeko-Tex has revised and made modifications to the criteria's which came in to effect from February 1, 2016.

Step gives brands, retailers, and manufacturers the opportunity to have each area of their company facilities analysed and assessed according to environmental and social criteria by an independent body.

The Step list of excluded harmful substances for textile production like 'Manufacturing Restricted Substances List' (MRSL) now complies with the requirements of the ZDHC initiative.

“Facilities that have been accorded Step therefore already meet the ZDHC specifications with regard to the use of specific process chemicals that are to be removed from textile production by 2020,” it said.

“Companies already certified in accordance with Step will comply with the MRSL criteria of the ZHDC after the next successful conformity audit at the latest,” Oeko-Tex added in a press release.

In the 'Environmental Performance' module, the previous requirements have been expanded to include an additional point on handling sludge from waste water treatment.

Sludge must be stored by companies with Step certification in a way that rules out any ground contamination.

Oeko-Tex has recommended that sludge residues of this type always be disposed of by professionals in accordance with environmental protection regulations.

“If the sludge is used for agricultural purposes, the new harmful substance limit values defined in appendix G8 must be complied with unless national statutory provisions have stricter requirements for them,” it observed.

In the new Step standard, the 'Social Responsibility' module contains minor amendments to further improve employee working conditions.

For instance, certified companies in the future will have to satisfy statutory regulations relating to a suitable level of maternity protection.

“If there are no statutory regulations, the companies are encouraged to define their own company guidelines to ensure paid maternity leave in the context of ILO Core Labour Standard 183,” the testing institute noted.

The overview of third-party certifications accepted by Oeko-Tex, which is included in appendix C of the Step standard, has been expanded to include an additional category for ethical standards.

In this, the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) has now been explicitly listed as a reference tool that Step certified companies can use to provide evidence of the responsible procurement of feathers and down.

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