Buyers are becoming increasingly aware of negative affects of pollution and textile related allergies. An extreme rise in acceptance of ecological products in textiles is registered at the buyer's end. Mounting demand of "eco-friendly" products has led manufacturers to adopt eco-label process, especially in textile industry.

There is certain requirement for a formal certification of an ecological ranking in garments and textiles. It is recommended to avoid confusion at the buyer's end to satisfy their demands. Additionally, supporting the entries to eco label rakings and maintaining existing ones, can also lead monetary savings via process optimization and decreased utilization of raw materials, to pull down processing time, enhancing environment situation and also improve conditions of working. Adoption of an eco-label also helps in getting ISO 14000 and ISO 9000 standard certification.


Usually these labels are chosen and used for the marketing of the products on the basis of the environment-friendly properties. Eco-labels are commonly issued by Government or individual bodies once the product has been approved for meeting the criteria set by them. The criteria for the eco-labels are mostly based on the life-cycle investigation of the product.


Requirement for an eco-label
Eco-labels which depicts the 'eco-friendliness' of the textiles and garments are widely amicable by the buyers, certifying that this products don't include chemicals, which maybe detrimental to the wearer. However, the awareness is not been reported globally, mainly in Western region of Europe, with Germany as the most demanding. Nordic speaking countries are also just behind Germany.

The elimination of quota system under the WTO in 2005, may lead increase in demands for more strict environmental standards in the global market. Producers who desire to sustain their existence and expand in international markets may well be required to adopt an eco-label for their textile and garment product assortment for acceptance by the consumers.


Advantages of eco-labeling
Opportunities for more export markets - Producers and retailers of textiles and garments will likely to come up with eco-labels to comply with the international market demands. As per current situation of international market beyond 2005, acceptance of an eco-label will highly help the producers and retailers in improving the export market opportunities.

Enhanced quality of product - The quality of the fabric will automatically improve after elimination of harmful chemicals.

Better environmental situations - After removing of toxic and harmful substances and saving in water, energy and utilization raw material, it results a decrease in the capacities and pollution potential of various releases.

Monetary savings - Via the process of environmentally optimization and enhancement, the saving of water and energy is possible. Often, the processing time is decreased and the RFT (Right First Time) is more enhanced. This advantages commonly the incremental price of utilizing eco-friendly chemicals or of accepting an enhanced process.

Best option to get ISO 14000 and ISO 9000 - Since quality control is significant part of eco-labeling, it provides smother way to go for ISO 14000 and ISO 9000 systems.

Selecting a proper eco-label
While picking an eco-label, textiles and garments producers should mull over the following points:

. Consumer requirements
These vary from country to country and led by buyer preferences. Find out which eco-labels are mostly accepted by the buyer, and those which are accepted in more than one export markets.

. Key export products
Eco-label standards usually apply to single product assortments only. The producers may initially desire to concentrate on their key export product assortment, as fearing of loss in market share. However, this may result in adverse monetary impacts.

. Execution
Pick eco-labels which allow easy implementation in every criterion. Eco-labels based on finished product quality may be not to hard to get than those, which even takes into concern of raw material, environmental affects of every stage of the production process.

There are huge differences between diverse eco-labeling schemes, some of them are based on complete investigation of the affects on environment, and some others may analyze just certain processes of the life-cycle.

The policy for rewarding the eco-label varies both in developed and developing countries. The following includes government sponsored and some individual labeling bodies:


Individual or Private eco-labels
Organizational - Eco Tex 1000, Eco Tex 100, AKN trademark, eco-tex
Producer's Association - AKN members
Company Eco-Labels - Otto Versnad, Steilmann, Green cotton, Hess Natur


National and International eco-labels
Multinational: Nordic Swan, EU-label
National: Green Mark, China-Taiwan Province, Eco-Mark, India, Environmental Eco-Mark, Japan, EKO-Seal, Netherlands, etc.


Republic of China-Taiwan (Green Mark): It was introduced in 1992 by the EPA


Objectives:
. To acknowledge the buyers in purchasing products
. To motivate producers to make and supply environment-friendly products.

Basics:
. To be utilized by the product assortments publicized by the EPA.
. The applicant must own legally registered company and a licensed production facility. It is the first-ever eco-label certified to ISO 9001.

Product categories: Non-bleached towels and cloth diapers.

Criteria for Non-bleached Towels:
It should not contain any kind of bleach, fluorescent whitener and formaldehyde in the production process.

Dyestuff used in the production should not contain: Mercury, chromium (+6), cadmium, lead, copper, zinc, arsenic and other heavy metals and their oxides.

The product should be produce of 100% natural fiber (or the packaging material) holding a label reading "Non-Bleached" packaging box used for the product is recommended to be made from recycled pulp with at least 80% recycled paper.

Thailand (Thai Green Label)
It was formally commenced by the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI) in 1994. The Green Label considers life-cycle and attends specific high-priority national goals, such as water and energy saving and waste reduction. Product assortment and standard are developed concerning to domestic means to carry out essential testing and monitoring.

Product category: Hat, bag, products made from cloth for baby, clothes i.e. shirts, trousers, clothing accessories, home and household textile fabrics.

Korea (Environmental Labeling)

KELA was officially launched in 1994, association with the Korean Ministry of Environment (MOE). KELA is a non-profit organization. It is based on the Type I scheme (ISO 14024). With the help of the MOE, KELA certifies products with verifiable environmentally optimized.



Product category: Clothing, washable products in infants, men, and women clothing line, and continuously skin-contacting clothing line.

Japan (Eco Mark)
The Eco Mark Program was formally launched in 1989 by the Japanese Environmental Association (JEA).
Product categories: Cloth diapers for infants, unbleached clothes, bed linen and towels, cloth shopping bags, textiles made of waste fibres and clothing made of used PET resin.

India Eco Mark
The Indian Government introduced the `Ecomark' in 1991.The label is given to consumer products that meet with the particular environment criteria.

Product categories: Textiles, baby Clothing, close to skin, outer fabrics, home textiles and clothing, hessians and sockings.


Australia/New Zealand Environmental Choice
Environmental Choice Australia Eco Labeling scheme was launched in 1991. Environmental Choice initiates from the New Zealand Government initiative and International official approval New Zealand manages it on behalf of the Minister for the Environment. The Australian scheme, Environmental Choice Australia trialed in Australia from 1991 to 1994, however, it did not grow wide industry support.

Product categories: Wool Pile Carpets, wool-Rich Pile Carpets.


European Union (Eco-label "Flower" scheme)
It was introduced in 1993 in 2000. The scheme was broadly revised. Ecological criteria for each product are based on life cycle considerations-LCC


Product categories: Bed mattresses, textile products, footwear.


Nordic Countries (Nordic Swan)
The Nordic Environmental Label is the formal eco-label in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. It was created by the Nordic Council of Ministers (the ministers in charge of consumer affairs) in 1989. The scheme also parallels the EU Eco-label scheme. The criteria for the program are established based on life cycle analysis of the production of the product category.


Product categories: Textiles and washable diapers.


Austrian Eco-label
Austria introduced eco-labeling system in 1991. The eco-labeling holds one of the most significant modern tools of product oriented environment-friendly policy. Hence, anticipation of all groups involved in eco-labeling are highly transparent, credible plan for the enhanced quality combined with a good amount of labeled products on the market.

Product category: Textile floor coverings.


Croatia (Environmental Label)
Ministry of Environmental Protection & Physical Planning

The Environmental Label of the Republic of Croatia depicts the affirmative relation of a product to the environment. In order to be awarded for the Environmental Label of the Republic of Croatia are specified by the Rule Book on Environmental Label (Official Gazette No. 64/96) and by particular criteria set for each individual product group.

Product categories: Linen towel on the rail


Netherland (Stichting Milieukeur)
Milieukeur is created and managed by the Stichting Milieukeur (the Ecolabel Foundation), an individual organization, which was launched in 1992, on the plan of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment and the Ministry of Economic Affairs.


Product categories: Footwear, Hand dryers (cotton)

Sweden (Good Environmental Choice)
BRA MILJOVAL ("Good Environmental Choice" and "Good Green Buy"), represents the eco-label of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC). SSNC introduced eco-labeling in 1988.


Product category: Textiles, divided into two parts, fibre production and textile manufacture


Conclusion:
Certainly, the environmental matters will sustain to gain an attention in the future promotion of global business in textiles and garment. There are still many issues to be solved, and for a solution worldwide co-operation is expected. One of the questions is the promotion of the garments, as at the end of the day every retailer wish to sell off them.

It may raise question that the use of man-made fibres is more environment-friendly than the production of natural fibres, such as cotton, that requires the massive use of insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers. Other question is that a usual consumer would like to buy cheap product, ignoring whether it has eco-label or not. In fact, there is great need to conduct detailed surveys amongst the buyers for the environment-friendly products in order to find-out at what price they are willing to but eco-labeled products. But, for now, it is certain that brands with eco-label will witness more demand in near future