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GOTS hits milestones, releases new rules and tools supporting the textile industry towards sustainability and responsibility

By 1 May 2024No Comments

As the world’s premier processing standard for certified organic fibres, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), managed by non-profit Global Standard, recognises 2023 as a year of significant milestones. From expansion of GOTS-certified facilities to the release of a new standard version, GOTS remained a beacon for businesses navigating changing legislation, social and environmental demands.

Coming out of one of the strongest years for GOTS, 2023 culminated with 25 GOTS-approved certification bodies reporting a noteworthy 14,676 certified facilities (an 8% growth from 2022) in 89 countries.

In the UK, the number of GOTS-certified operators increased to 112 in 2023 (+6%), and, according to the Soil Association Certification’s Organic Market Report, the UK market for organic textiles increased 6% to £100 million. The partnership between GOTS and UK Organic (formerly the Organic Trade Board) continued this year, with events including promotion of GOTS during Organic Textile Week. In a survey of 2,000 UK based consumers, UK Organic found that 70% would be less likely to buy from a brand that was seen to be greenwashing. The partnership also organised a roundtable on greenwashing which showed how GOTS certification can support genuine organic claims by brands and retailers.

Ushering in GOTS Version 7.0

As of 1 March, facilities that become GOTS-certified will operate under the new GOTS Version 7.0, released in March 2023 with a one-year transition period. GOTS Version 7.0 and its accompanying Implementation Manual provides a comprehensive solution for companies who want to produce organic textiles and be supported to ensure compliance with environmental and human rights due diligence along the entire value chain, from field to finished product.

“At GOTS’ core is providing solutions. GOTS was always instrumental for pioneers in the textile industry to voluntarily demonstrate their commitment to sustainable value chains, as a risk management tool and for operational efficiency,” said Claudia Kersten, Managing Director of Global Standard. “With the new and upcoming supply chain regulations, GOTS acquired the additional role of helping companies show compliance with laws.”

GOTS Version 7.0 also introduced a six-step due diligence process and handbook that equips GOTS-certified operations to proactively identify, assess and mitigate adverse impacts throughout their value chains.

Looking to the future

GOTS initiated in 2023 two major projects in India, the globe’s largest producer of organic co ton. The Farm-Gin Registry was introduced for the 2022-2023 harvest season, which acts as a link between farm and gin and is a tool to strengthen integrity by collecting organic raw seed cotton data producing farm or farm group.

In a world first, GOTS, the European Space Agency (ESA) and software company Marple launched a new project that aims to show the potential for remote satellite monitoring of organic cotton cultivation systems. The project trained artificial intelligence (AI) to use ESA satellite data to detect cotton fields across India and automatically classify them according to their cultivation standard. By integrating standardised yield metrics, this innovative approach will enable GOTS to generate realistic estimates of organic cotton yields in specific areas. In addition, the project is expected to empower GOTS to recognise cotton fields that have not yet
obtained organic certification but possess the potential for a transition to organic cultivation. The first results of the project will be announced in June.

Educating the consumer

GOTS, in its ongoing commitment to stakeholder education, orchestrated in November an immersive 360-degree awareness and educational campaign. Successfully engaging both consumers and industry professionals, the initiative shined a spotlight on GOTS-certified companies and their products, which empowered consumers to make more conscientious choices while shopping. With an impressive turnout of over 250 certified entities, the campaign made a significant global impact, reaching more than 21 million unique individuals worldwide.

Read the full 2023 Annual Report here.