Interview with Herbert Ladwig

Herbert Ladwig
Herbert Ladwig
Global Organic Textile Standards
Global Organic Textile Standards

A risk assessment based residue policy must be implemented along the entire processing and trading chain...
Herbert Ladwig is the Managing Director of Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), an organisation that promotes sustainability in the textile industry. He shares his pearls of wisdom with Fibre2fashion Correspondent Manushi Gandhi. Synopsis: GOTS is developed by the members of the International Working Group which consists of four trustworthy organisations: 1. International Association Natural Textile Industry (IVN), Germany. 2. Soil Association (SA), England. 3. Organic Trade Association (OTA), USA. 4. Japan Organic Cotton Association (JOCA), Japan. GOTS has several representatives in various countries who promote sustainability in textiles and their regions. The GOTS-approved certifiers are tasked with implementation of the GOTS quality assurance system. Only textile products that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibres can become GOTS certified. Herbert Ladwig has been a corporate lawyer with several corporations in Germany and abroad in different fields including the garment industry. Mr. Ladwig owns a law firm in Stuttgart, specializing in commercial law. He is the CEO of Global Standard gemeinnutzige GmbH since 2008. Excerpts:

Tell us something about your profession and since how long are you associated with GOTS?

I studied Political Science and Law in Germany and USA. I worked as corporate counsel in several countries and industries, among them the garment industry. Later I practiced law focusing on commercial law. In 2008, I retired from my own law office. I have been involved in organic textiles since 1988 as an advisor to the world’s first organic textile manufacturers association founded in Germany in the seventies. On behalf of it, I organized and coordinated the International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard from its start in 2002.

What’s the need for a company to be certified by GOTS?

GOTS is a solution for companies striving for sustainability. With GOTS they can rely on requirements for environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing which are recognized world-wide. And - to speak of the economic pillar of sustainability - GOTS satisfies the need to generate long-term competitive advantages.

What steps should be taken at the ground level to promote ethical business practices?

We have to change our mindset from 'getting a certificate' to achieving 'standards set by a certification system’. At the ground level, the businesses have to invest in staff trainings, better record management, waste management, social practices, optimum workload etc. There is need for paradigm shift in the way we do business. All these practices would lead to higher ethical credibility. A business that is certified to GOTS can promote its credibility because GOTS is well established as a leading standard, exhibiting sustainability.

What is the validity of GOTS certificate and license? Is there a possibility of a company indulging in unethical and anti-environmental practices after obtaining the certificate?

The GOTS quality assurance is based on a dual system. Annual on-site inspections are the basis for GOTS certification. They are performed by independent and specially accredited certification bodies which may additionally conduct unexpected inspections. This certificate means that the company is able to process and trade the listed products under GOTS. This is publicized in our database on the GOTS website. Furthermore a risk assessment based residue policy must be implemented along the entire processing and trading chain to assure the consumer that GOTS certified textiles do not contain critical residue levels of harmful substances. A formal complaint procedure is available for anyone in case of any violation of a certified company’s duties under GOTS.

People think organic textiles have a limited availability. Is this fact?

GOTS certified organic textiles are available in all segments of textile trade- garments, kids-wear, casuals, formals, towels, bed linens, aprons, carpets, even socks and sportswear. This includes high end fashion garments as well. Yes, the availability would be limited. The reason being- the area under organic farming (for cotton) is less than 10%. But, there are many organisations working to promote pesticide and GMO free organic cotton farming worldwide and we are sure this ratio will consistently increase. For the standard rule of demand and supply, in order to increase availability, more and more brands and consumers have to pledge their support to certified organic textiles. This will propagate the demand down the supply chain till the organic farmers.
Published on: 22/04/2013

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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