The fact is that responsible manufacturers in China do not inevitably supply poor quality goods if they consistently make quality a high priority and have their goods tested and validated by recognized, independent experts. Independent quality assessment and testing assure manufacturers, retailers, and consumers that textile products are safe for human use.
For textiles, the Hohenstein Institutes offer a wide range of independent quality assessments and certification processes on which European importers have successfully relied for years when purchasing goods from countries such as China, India, Bangladesh, and Turkey. Chief among the Institutes’ offerings is the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification. More than 15 years ago, the Hohenstein Institutes helped develop the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, now a highly-recognized global eco-label, to assure European consumers that textile products are tested for harmful substances and are safe for human use.
“The unfortunate baby bib incident and other similar occurrences in the recent past have increased awareness of textile safety in the U.S.,” says Manfred Wentz, U.S. director of Oeko-Tex. “U.S. consumers are now demanding textiles that are safe to use for their families whether those textiles are used in their clothing, their homes, their cars, or their offices. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification provides that guarantee.”
The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 provides effective protection against possible harmful substances in textiles. This is a voluntary test and certification system for textile fibers, yarns, fabrics, and manufactured products of all kinds. Textile items that have been tested successfully can be marketed with the product label, “Confidence in Textiles”, which provides a valuable guarantee for purchasers. However, to obtain Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification, all components of the product, including accessories such as buttons, zips, linings, etc., must comply with the test criteria which are applied consistently worldwide.
The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 test criteria include legally banned or regulated substances and chemicals that are known to be harmful to human health. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is more stringent than existing governmental requirements. The level of testing depends on the intended use of the textile product in question: the closer the skin contact, the stricter the limits that are prescribed. Baby items and textile toys are therefore tested particularly rigorously.
Because Oeko-Tex certified starting materials can be used at subsequent processing stages along the textile supply chain, random samples may be tested at any time to ensure that the required criteria are being met. In addition, the International Oeko-Tex Association tests random samples from retail stores to ensure that the human ecology standards that have been promised by manufacturers and retailers are attained.
“The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is a global certification process and it is constantly updated to reflect changes in governmental regulations and textile processing chemistry. The Institute’s independent status and random testing procedures also provide a level of objectivity and credibility upon which manufacturers, retailers, and consumers can rely,” says Wentz.
Another inspection service which is offered by the Hohenstein Institutes in a multitude of countries, including China, India, Bangladesh and Turkey, is not confined to assessing only finished products but allows the various stages of production and the flow of goods to be inspected. This inspection process extends from examining the raw materials and accessories to monitoring local production, inspecting the outgoing goods, and ensuring that they are carefully loaded into the containers. This comprehensive production monitoring and quality control system detects any deficiencies early, thus avoiding costs to the purchasing company arising from complaints and returns.
The International Oeko-Tex Association (Oeko-Tex.com), headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, was founded in 1992 by the Austrian Textile Research Institute and the German Hohenstein Research Institutes. Currently, its membership includes 17 independent textile research and testing institutes with offices in over 40 countries. To date, more than 60,000 certificates have been issued and 7,000 companies are working with Oeko-Tex to ensure that their products are environmentally friendly and tested for potentially harmful substances.
About Hohenstein Research Institute and the Institute of Clothing Physiology
The Hohenstein Research Institute (hohenstein.de) is an independent international textile research and development institute headquartered in Bonnigheim, Germany. The Institute of Clothing Physiology focuses on clothing physiology, clothing and manufacturing technology, dyeing and whiteness measuring, textile finishing, textile quality assurance and materials testing, textile ecology, textile cleaning, textile hygiene, microbiology, environmental analysis and quality assurance.