PRZOOM - /newswire/ -
Greensboro, NC, United States, 2008/03/03 - The International Oeko-Tex Association provides guidance in response to participants' questions raised at the Lenzing Innovation Authentic Green symposium held at TexWorld USA in New York on January 23, 2008.
The many questions raised during the interactive session suggested that brands and retailers were eager for guidance about what constitutes “green.”
“Textile ecology is a complex equation which makes the term ‘green’ difficult to define,” says Dina Dunn, who addressed the audience on behalf of Oeko-Tex. “It was quite clear during the conference that apparel and home textile companies are struggling to define their own ‘green’ path. It’s difficult because other industries have used ‘green’ terms carelessly and US consumers are now somewhat skeptical when they hear them. Consumers are challenging superficial ‘green’ claims and asking tough questions. Companies that can’t respond effectively risk losing the trust of their customer base.”
The International Oeko-Tex Association evaluates textiles on the human ecology level as well as from the environmental ecology point of view. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification tests textiles for substances that are harmful to humans, both the employees who make them and the consumers who use them. The Oeko-Tex Standard 1000 is a testing, auditing, and certification system for environmentally-friendly textile production sites throughout the supply chain.
The best approach to developing an effective “green” response, according to Oeko-Tex, requires three initial steps:
1. Define what ‘green’ means for your company. By ‘green’, are you referring to your manufacturing process, your raw material selection, your recycling program, your packaging choices? Look at your entire business model and supply chain to find meaningful opportunities for ecological improvements that make sense to customers. Don’t use ‘green’ terms lightly but provide details about your products and practices.
2. Get certified by an independent, international, third-party endorser. Open the doors to trusted inspectors who will validate your claims. Independent certification provides reassurance that you meet established industry standards in addition to your own internal standards. An international perspective is critical, specifically for the apparel and textile community, so choose a certification standard that reflects a global understanding of regulations, laws, international requirements, etc.
3. Be transparent with customers and consumers. Be as forthcoming about improvement opportunities as you are about accomplishments. Consumers understand that ‘green’ is a complex balance of choices and they appreciate companies that give them the information they require to make the selections that are right for them.
“The journey to ‘green’ is one of continuous improvement,” says Dr. Manfred Wentz, Oeko-Tex’s US director and a global expert on textile safety and ecology. “Many textile companies have started down the right path. But ‘green’ isn’t an overnight accomplishment. It is a long term, comprehensive commitment to responsible management of the textile industry’s impact on the global environment.”
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 14 independent textile research and testing institutes with offices in over 40 countries. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification guarantees that textile products are free from harmful levels of more than 100 dangerous chemicals. To date, more than 60,000 certificates have been issued and 8,000 companies in 84 countries are working with Oeko-Tex to ensure that their products are tested for potentially harmful substances.