Oeko-Tex®: Reason for Introduction


The Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 was introduced at the beginning of the 1990s as a response to the needs of the general public for textiles which posed no risk to health. "Poison in textiles" and other negative headlines were widespread at this time and indiscriminately branded all chemical across the board used in textile manufacturing as negative and dangerous to health. .

The demands we make of modern textile products cannot be realised without the use of specific chemical substances, however. Fashionable colours, easy-care properties, a long life span and many other functional properties are now demanded of textiles, and are essential in some cases, depending on the intended use (e.g. for workwear). .

Up until the introduction of the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 there was neither a reliable product label for consumers to asses the human ecological quality of textiles nor a uniform safety standard for companies within the textile and clothing industry which enabled a practical assessment of potential harmful substances in textile products. The Austrian Textile Research Institute (TI) and the German Research Institute Hohenstein therefore jointly developed the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 on the basis of their existing test standards.


Objectives

 

The testing and certification system of the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 satisfies the many and varied requirements consumers make of modern textile products and at the same time take into account the complex production conditions in the textile industry: global organization, a strong tendency towards the international division of labour, different mentalities with respect to the use of potentially harmful substances.

  • Manufacturing textile products of all types, ecologically harmless for humans.

  • Simplifying and accelerating terms of delivery for manufacturers and retailers who wish to offer their customers textile products which pose no risk whatsoever to health.

  • A reliable product label for consumers who specifically aim to buy textiles which are harmless to health.


Components

 

To implement the objectives of a reliable product label for consumers and a uniform safety standard for the assessment of harmful substances for textile and clothing manufacturers, the Oeko-Tex® system provides the following components:

  •  Globally uniform and scientifically-based (textile and human ecologically relevant) test criteria
  • Annual re-evaluation and development of the stipulated limit values and criteria
  • Testing and certification of textile products by independent test institutes with relevant expertise
  • Testing of textile raw materials, intermediate and end products at all stages of processing (modular principle)
  • Use of Oeko-Tex® certified source materials leads to synergetic effects in testing, incl. reduced costs of testing
  • Product conformity thanks to internal quality management within the companies
  • Company visits to ensure optimum certification process and targeted support for operational quality assurance
  • Product monitoring by means of regular control tests on the market and site inspections by independent auditors from the Oeko-Tex® Association Oeko-Tex® Standard 100


Description


The Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 is an independent test and certification system for textile raw, intermediate and end products at all stages of processing. Examples of articles that can be certified: yarns, fabrics, treated fabrics, manufactured articles (clothing of all kinds, domestic and household textiles, bedding, towels, soft toys and many more)


Criteria

The tests for harmful substances cover

  • Legally banned substances
  • Legally controlled substances
  • Chemicals known to be harmful to the health (but not yet legally controlled)
  • Parameters for health protection

Taken in their entirety, the requirements go far beyond existing national legislation.

Laboratory tests and product classes

 

The OEKO-TEX® testing for harmful substances is always geared towards how the textile will actually be used. The more closely the product is in contact with the skin, the stricter the human ecology requirements that it must meet.

 

A distinction is made between four product classes:

  • Product class I: textile articles for babies and toddlers up to 3 years old (clothing, toys, bedding, towels etc.)
  • Product class II: textiles used close to the skin (underwear, bedding, T-shirts etc.)
  • Product class III: textiles used away from the skin (jackets, coats etc.)
  • Product class IV: furnishing materials (curtains, tablecloths, upholstery etc.)

Certification

The prerequisite for textile products to be certified under the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is that all components of an article, without exception, comply with the required criteria - so not only the outer material, but also the sewing threads, linings, prints etc and any non-textile accessories such as buttons, zips, rivets etc.

Certification procedure

  • The company applies to one of the 15 OEKO-TEX® member institutes for certification, including submitting representative samples of the materials for laboratory testing.
  • The institute in question carries out operational auditing and laboratory testing. Test and audit reports are sent to the applicant.
  • If the testing is successful, the applicant must present a written statement of conformity, declaring that the articles he is producing are identical to the tested samples. Credible evidence of an appropriate quality control system for testing this must be presented to the OEKO-TEX® institute.
  • Certificates are issued for a period of one year - in Germany and France by the relevant Certification Centre, and in other countries by the OEKO-TEX® member institute in question.

Control testing

 

The OEKO-TEX® Association conducts annual control testing of certified products, at a rate of at least 15% of all certificates issued. It tests articles bearing the OEKO-TEX® Label that are available in retail shops and also samples of materials from factories. In addition, independent auditors carry out random checks of companies holding OEKO-TEX® certificates, in the form of unannounced inspections.


OEKO-TEX® Standard 100plus

 

Description

The OEKO-TEX® Standard 100plus is a product label which enables textile and clothing manufacturers to provide evidence to their end users, by means of only one certification mark, that their products have been optimised for human ecology and that the production conditions are environmentallyfriendly. Products bearing this label have been tested for harmful substances under the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 and manufactured entirely in environmentally-friendly production premises complying with the OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000.


Criteria

  • Testing for harmful substances / product certification under OEKO-TEX® Standard 100
  • Environmentally-friendly and socially responsible production sites, certified under OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000


Certification

 

The prerequisite for certification under OEKO-TEX® Standard 100plus is compliance with the criteria specified by the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 and the OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000. It is also necessary to demonstrate that the entire production chain, that is to say all sites involved in the production of a particular product (at all stages of textile processing) comply, without exception, with the requirements of the OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000.


Entitlement

 

Companies meeting the necessary conditions for the articles in question can use the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100plus product label to endorse them for advertising purposes for a period of one year. Provided that the required criteria continue to be complied with, the label can be renewed annually thereafter.

 

OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000

Description

The OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000 is a testing, auditing and certification system for environmentally-friendly operations in the textile and clothing industry. On the basis of criteria which are updated on an annual basis, this standard allows for an objective assessment of the attained environmental balance sheet and social compatibility at the company's respective production location. Its objective is the continuous improvement of the operation's environmental performance and working conditions.

Criteria

  • Product certification according to OEKO-TEX® Standard 100
  • Compliance with national laws
  • Observance of strict specifications regarding waste water treatment and waste air emissions environmentally-friendly waste management
  • Use of environmentally-compatible technologies, chemicals and dyes (e.g. no chlorine bleach)
  • Optimised energy and material use
  • Proof of quality and environmental management system
  • Workplace hygiene and work safety (low noise and dust pollution, provision of required protection measures etc.)
  • Compliance with social criteria (prohibition on child labour, no discrimination/forced labour, wages commensurate with performance, regulated work hours and vacation time etc.)

Certification

A prerequisite for certification according to OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000 is compliance with the defined environmental and social criteria, as well as proof that at least 30% of total production is already certified according to OEKO-TEX® Standard 100. Environmental management systems which span across industries, such as ISO 14000 or EMAS, are credited towards a certification according to OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000 and also support these in an ideal manner. The same applies to already established quality assurance systems based on an internal model or ISO 9000. Companies with several operating locations must have each location inspected separately.

Certification process

  • Company makes an application to one of the 15 OEKO-TEX® member institutes.
  • Documentation of the company's environmental situation using a strength/weakness analysis (applicant). Preparation of an action plan to implement the required criteria (applicant/institute).
  • Implementation of required measures at the company.

Audit of operation by commissioned member institute.

  • Following a successful audit, an OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000 certificate is issued for a period of 3 years.
  • Company submits an annual environmental report documenting achieved and non-achieved goals to the OEKO-TEX® auditor. This is followed by a so-called conformity audit.


Advantages for companies

  • Specially aligned to the needs of the textile and clothing industry
  • Available worldwide, independent standard
  • Clear and firmly defined criteria and limits
  • Competitive advantages through improved image and credibility
  • Marketing argument for own products
  • Improved employee identification through inclusion/co-responsibility
  • Cost savings through efficient production processes, relieves resources, limits emissions, keeps Waste at minimum etc.
    • meaningful combination of economic and ecological interests
  • Allows for an overall statement regarding the origin of a product (-> OEKO-TEX® Standard 100plus label) across all stages

 

 

Publisher and contact:


OEKO-TEX® International - Association for the Assessment of Environmentally Friendly Textiles

Gotthardtstrasse 61

CH-8027 Zurich

info@oeko-tex1000.com

www.oeko-tex1000.com