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OEKO-TEX planning sustainability program

Business, Industry News | March 1, 2013 | By:

The Sustainable Textile Production (STeP) program by OEKO-TEX®.

The International OEKO-TEX® Association, Zurich, Switzerland, is currently working on an optimized, independent certification for environmentally friendly and socially responsible companies. The objective is to provide globally operating textile brands, retail companies and manufacturers along the textile value chain with trustworthy and transparent documentation of their sustainable production conditions.

The new certification system, Sustainable Textile Production (STeP) by OEKO-TEX, will be presented to the public for the first time at the Prime Source Forum in Hong Kong on Mar. 26, 2013, and will replace the current OEKO-TEX Standard 1000. The launch for the STeP certification is planned for the presentation of the OEKO-TEX Sustainability Award in Frankfurt on June 12. From this date on the OEKO-TEX Association will be able to carry out the first certifications of production facilities.

“The heart of the new STeP certification,” explains OEKO-TEX Secretary General Dr. Jean-Pierre Haug, “is the modular analysis of all relevant company areas such as quality management, use of chemicals, environmental protection, environmental management, social responsibility and health and safety. As the certification tool is specifically tailored to the situations in the individual processing stages of the textile and clothing industry, it can provide interested companies with targeted support for continuous improvement of their production conditions.”

Precondition for certification is the successful auditing of the production facilities through one of the OEKO-TEX institutes. The assessment in how far STeP certified companies are already working sustainably is made on the basis of a scoring system by means of a Web-based process.

In order to create widespread acceptance for the new STeP certification from the start, the goal is to include as many interested parties as possible—brand manufacturers, production facilities, retail companies, associations and NGOs—with regard to the weighting of the individual modules for assessment of sustainability. The required criteria for STeP certification are regularly verified and, if necessary, updated by the OEKO-TEX Association, taking into account international legislation and standards as well as current market developments. Unannounced audits at the certified companies are also part of the certification system. Already existing company certificates such as ISO 9000, ISO 14001 and SA 8000, among others, are recognised for STeP certification and will be taken into account for evaluation of the individual modules.

With the new STeP certification, the OEKO-TEX Association supports other existing initiatives for implementing more sustainability, such as the “Higg Index” by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition or the “Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC)” campaign. With requirements specifically adapted to the situation in the textile industry, STeP currently offers the most comprehensive and reliable independent proof of sustainable conditions in textile production. More detailed information about the STeP certification is available from the OEKO-TEX Secretariat in Zurich. Contact David Pircher, OEKO-TEX product manager, email

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