About Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
IVN firmly believes that the Global Organic Textile Standard defines the minimum parameters that textiles must meet to be considered sustainable. GOTS is an internationally established standard that sets global requirements regarding ecology and social accountability for textiles.
This internationally known and globally applied standard is awarded by GOTS gGmbH, of which IVN is co-owner. Therefore GOTS is only indirectly an IVN standard, even though IVN played a major role in its inception. The quality seal IVN ZERTIFIZIERT, now no longer in use, was the inspiration for this standard and was in large part integrated into GOTS.
GOTS requirements are slightly lower than those of NATURTEXTIL IVN ZERTIFIZIERT BEST. They represent what IVN considers to be the minimum requirements for products to be considered honestly and authentically sustainable. As both standards use largely the same formulations, following the differences between BEST and GOTS. You will find the definition of BEST quality seal here: BEST Guidelines
Goals of these standards
The goal of both standards is to formulate requirements that assure a sustainable production of textiles throughout the entire production chain and thereby offer credible and reliable product security for consumers. Whereas GOTS focusses on translating requirements into industrial scale production, IVN BEST is aware that its stricter standards cannot be met by every product. BEST seeks to formulate the highest currently achievable standards as concerns environmental protection, social accountability and consumer safety whereas GOTS offers a sustainability standard for mass production.
GOTS only awards its label to products that are completely certified in all their components. By contrast, IVN BEST allows a partial labelling in the sense of individual product components. For example, a baby carriage whose textile components including the roof meet BEST requirements can be labeled with BEST on the appropriate parts. This is not possible for GOTS.
Proportion of organic natural fibres
The most significant difference between the two standards is the minimum share of certified natural fibres in the finished product. A GOTS labeled product must consist of at least 70% natural fibres. In other words, at most 30% can be synthetic fibres or rayon. The 70% natural fibres must originate from certified organic farming or animal husbandry (kbA or kbT).
GOTS offers 2 levels of labels: the GOTS „organic“, wherein 95% of component fibres must originate from certified organic farming (kbA) or certified organic animal husbandry (kbT) and the lower level „made with“, in which only 70% is organic natural fibres.
BEST has only one label, specifying that only products containing 100% organic fibres can be labeled. With sufficient justification, GOTS also allows the use of natural fibres originating in certified organic production „in conversion“.
For GOTS, the remaining 30% of fibres not originating from organic production can be conventional natural fibres (with the exception of cotton and angora), sustainable regeneration fibres (from raw materials generated by sustainable forestry or organic farming or recycling-waste products) or recycled synthetic (polymer) fibres originating in pre- and post-consumer waste fabrics Other regenerative and synthetic fibres are only allowed up to a level of 10%.
Pretreatment, dying, printing, finishing
BEST only allows bleaching with oxygen. GOTS mandates bleaching through oxygen only for cotton. For other fibres, exceptions can be made as long as the substances used meet the basic chemical standards as defined for GOTS.
Mercerisation is allowed for GOTS but not for BEST as long as the chemicals used meet the basic standards defined for GOTS. This is also true for brighteners.
The selection of dyes and helping agents is stricter for BEST than for GOTS. BEST excludes all dyes based on heavy metals with the exception of iron. GOTS makes an exception for iron and also for copper (up to 5% of total weight for blue, green or turquoise dyes).
Similarly, the selection of dyes, pigments and helping agents used in printing is more restrictive for BEST. BEST excludes dyes containing heavy metals with the exception of iron. GOTS also allows an exception for copper. Any additives containing more than 1% permanent AOX are excluded for BEST. GOTS makes an exception for these for yellow, green and purple pigments.
There are also differences regarding the range of finishing processes and agents. GOTS allows synthetic agents to the extent that they meet basic chemical requirements. BEST allows synthetic additives only for softening and felting and explicitly excludes silicone-based additives to soften or finish as well as additives that contain aminoethylethanolamin and flame-retarding additives. These are accepted by GOTS.
Notions and Accessories
Sewing threads: BEST only allows sewing threads of 100 % natural fibres or polyester thread covered with natural fibre. GOTS allows sewing thread made of synthetic or regenerated fibres.
Pockets: BEST allows pockets to be made of fabrics that can be up to 30% synthetic. GOTS also allows 100% regenerated or synthetic fabrics and fibres.
Embroidery and labels: BEST allows only natural fibre or rayon. GOTS allows recycled synthetics.
For lace, ribbons, edging, cords, lining, applications, both standards require a minimum of 70% natural fibres.
For BEST, The remaining 30% must be free of GMOs, which typically excludes conventional cotton. Synthetic and regenerated fibres are allowed. GOTS excludes the use of conventional cotton and angora for these articles and specifies that synthetic fibres must be recycled fibres and that regenerative fibres must originate from sustainable generation.
Buttons, snaps, buckles, zippers: BEST only allows natural raw materials and metal that does not contain chrome or nickel. GOTS also allows plastics and regenerated materials.
Minimum social standards
Safe and clean working conditions
GOTS applies the minimum social standards formulated by the International Labour Organization (ILO). BEST specifies additional requirements: escape and rescue plans are to be prominently posted, fire extinguishers are to be available, escape routes and assembly points are to be designated. An area for breaks and rest areas are to be made available separate from working areas. A person trained in first-aid must be designated for each 10 employees and there must be space for a worker to lie down.
There is to be no child labor
Unlike GOTS, BEST formulates comprehensive protection for working children. However, there is no general ban on new hiring of children. As long as children and teenagers are in their growth phase, they may not be subject to heavy manual labor. Daily and weekly work hours are limited (8 h/day, 40 h/week). Breaks are mandated (4,5–6 h: min. 30 min., as of 6 h: min. 60 min). GOTS does not allow new child workers. Children already employed are not protected as comprehensively as for BEST.
BEST requires that employees be offered a job contract at the time of hiring specifying their wages for a particular time frame.
Ban on excessive work hours
BEST adds requirements regarding breaks and special leave to the standards formulated for GOTS. A right to special leave for bereavement is assured.
To download a comparison of IVN quality seals, click here.
Details of the Global Organic Textile Standard is available here and the Labelling and Licensing Guide here.