Oeko-Tex Begins 2020 With Updated Certification Guidelines

Sustainable-product certification firm Oeko-Tex is implementing new regulations for its certifications in 2020 in addition to test criteria and limit values. As the apparel industry continues to navigate through methods of cleaning up its supply-chain practices to yield a more-sustainable approach to creating clothing, these recently introduced standards will become increasingly important.

“Oeko-Tex system users expect and rely upon these annual updates to stay compliant with changing global legal regulations. They also use Oeko-Tex standards to ensure safer products based on latest scientific data,” said Ben Mead, managing director of Hohenstein Institute America, a founding member of Oeko-Tex. “The stringent requirements for residues in textile materials will lead to an overall lower impact on the environment, workers and consumers.”

Wastewater Detox to Zero

Oeko-Tex notes in a Jan. 7 press release that an important aspect of its Sustainable Textile & Leather Production (STeP) standards has been secure management of chemicals and wastewater through its Detox to Zero initiative, but in 2020 these guidelines will become rules. The organization will implement its Detox to Zero standards as mandatory for all STeP-certified businesses, which will lead to Oeko-Tex demanding these companies adhere to the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals program’s Manufacturing Restricted Substance List.

Made in Green leather

One of the most-notable changes to Oeko-Tex’s standards is the inclusion of leather in the Made in Green certification. Following the integration of leather-production facilities into its guidelines for STeP in 2019, this new change will afford opportunities for apparel brands that manufacture leather products to apply for the Made in Green label. These products will be able to achieve this status after being tested for potentially harmful materials and proving the goods were manufactured in eco-friendly and ethical factories.

Limit-value catalog updates

For 2020, Oeko-Tex has moved to include N-nitrosamines within its Standard 100 certification and Leather Standard, both of which serve to monitor products for potentially harmful substances. According to Oeko-Tex, N-nitrosamines are carcinogenic substances that could pose a threat to consumers. Also added to the Standard 100 and Leather Standard are specific limits for arsenic and mercury that are included in the total content of products. In addition to these additions, glyphosate, a foundation for herbicides, and glyphosate salts are now included in the organization’s Standard 100.

On the horizon

Throughout the year, Oeko-Tex will examine substances that now fall under the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals classification of substances of very high concern. Oeko-Tex will focus on substances that have been deemed hazardous to human health and the environment, including perfluorinated agents and arylamines, the chemicals that can be found in epoxy, dyes, fungicides, pesticides and polyurethane.

Apparel brands and manufacturers who are certified under the former Oeko-Tex standards for these designations will have until April 1 to transition their operations into line with the new guidelines.