Summary

The OEKO-TEX® Standard was originally developed as a label that gives guarantees on various aspects of textile ecology, with the first module focusing on consumer health, especially to prevent adverse health reactions induced by textiles.

From this perspective, OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 focused on requirements on hazardous substances, like heavy metals, toxic dyes, crop protection substances, and carcinogenic substances like formaldehyde (used in textiles as an anti-wrinkle substance).

Each label has a serial number and carries the name of the institute that carried out the laboratory tests for the qualification for the standard.

The OEKO-TEX® Association has developed three certification schemes for textiles and textile production sites:

(1)  OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 (chemically safe textiles)

(2)  STeP by OEKO-TEX® (Sustainable Textile Production)

(3)  OEKO-TEX® Standard 100plus (the combination OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 and STeP)

The OEKO-TEX® 100 standard has requirements for the final product and aims to guarantee that products are free of harmful substances and therefore safe for human health and the environment too. OEKO-TEX® 100 is perhaps the most accepted and well-known standard out of the three.

OEKO-TEX® 100plus requirements  are awarded on the basis that the selected products are free of harmful substances according to the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 and are only manufactured in environmentally-friendly operations at socially acceptable conditions as per  STeP by OEKO-TEX® – this process must be ensured along the entire production chain, from the production of yarn to ready-made products.

In the latest version of the criteria, OEKO-TEX® has committed to supporting the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals initiative. This commitment is made by raising awareness among companies involved in the OEKO-TEX® system about the chemical issues associated with the compounds identified by Greenpeace in their Detox campaign.

Governance

The OEKO-TEX® standards series have been developed and are managed by the International OEKO-TEX® Association, a group of 16 textile research and test institutes in Europe and Japan, with representative agencies and contact offices in over 60 countries worldwide.

Scope

OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 applies throughout the textile industry and its scope covers textile and leather items at all levels of production, including textile and non-textile accessories. The standard is also applicable to mattresses, feathers and downs, foams, upholstery, and others material with similar characteristics.

OEKO-TEX® products classes are divided based on their intended use:

  • Class I: Textiles and textile toys for babies and small children up to the age of three, e.g. underwear, romper suits, bed linen, bedding, soft toys etc. (43% of all certificates.)
  • Class II: Textiles having a large part of their surface in direct contact with the skin, e.g. underwear, bed linen, terry goods, shirts, blouses etc. (53% of all certificates.)
  • Class III: Textiles which do not come into contact with the skin, or only have a small part of their surface in contact with the skin, e.g. jackets, coats, interlining materials etc. (1% of all certificates.)
  • Class IV: Furnishing materials for decorative purposes such as table linen and curtains, but also textile wall and floor coverings etc. (3% of all certificates.)
Market Acceptance

The OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 certification is present in more than 90 countries mostly in Asia (55.7%) and Europe (41.29%) as per June 2011. China is the country with the most valid OEKO-TEX® certificates, closely followed by Germany and (significantly further behind) Turkey, Italy and India.

The OEKO-TEX®  Standard 100 is mostly used for products classified as Class II, which are intended to be used in circumstances where the majority of the product has direct contact with the skin, e.g. underwear, bed linen, terry goods, shirts, blouses etc.

Examples of certified suppliers can be found at the OEKO-TEX® website.

According to the OEKO-TEX® online buyers guide; there are currently around 10,000 companies from over 90 countries certified with OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 in total.

Areas of Impact

Energy Consumption

Not covered

Water Consumption

Not covered

Water Emissions

Not covered

Chemicals (Accepted/Restricted)

OEKO-TEX ® RSL (Standard)

Chemicals (Chemical Management)

Not covered

Chemicals (Consumer Safety)

OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 focuses specifically on consumer safety and content of chemical substances.

The internationally binding test catalogue according to OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 is based on scientifically proven parameters and is revised annually in line with the latest legislation and research.

This catalogue includes:

  • substances which are prohibited by law, such as carcinogenic dyestuffs
  • substances which are regulated by law, such as formaldehyde, softeners, chromium(IV), pentachlorophenol, or phthalates
  • substances which, according to current knowledge, are harmful to health, but which are not yet regulated or prohibited by law, such as heavy metals, pesticides, allergy-inducing dyestuffs, tin-organic compounds, chlorinated hydrocarbons, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s).
  • parameters such as colourfastness and a skin-friendly pH-value, which are precautionary measures to safeguard consumers’ health
  •  Substances targeted by the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) initiative, such as alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEO’s)
Air Emissions

Not covered

Occupational Health and Safety

Not covered

Additional Criteria

Management System (Record Keeping)

Not covered

Management System (Responsibilities/Roles)

OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 endorses the applicant to be responsible for assuring the quality of the certified product. The applicant may delegate parts of the quality assurance to manufacturers, suppliers and importers.

Management System (Trainings)

Not covered

Environmental Policy

Not covered

Social Responsibility

Not covered

Others

N/A

Certification

On Site Audits or Desktop Review

OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 mainly relies on product testing which can only be done at authorised institutes and laboratories. All certificate holders are visited at least every third year to check for compliance with the documents delivered for certification.

Unannounced Inspections/Other Inspections

During the certificate’s period of validity, the institute in charge of the validation is authorised to undertake two random tests on certified products. If random testing reveals a deviation from the limit values on which the tests are based, an additional test will be undertaken on a different sample as check. If further deviations are found, the testing institute may withdraw the authorisation to label products with the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 mark with immediate effect. All testing costs will be charged to the certificate holder. Beside this the International OEKO-TEX® Association is collecting samples (covering at least 20 % of all certificates) from the free market and tests them in the laboratories of the members against the requirements. If there is no deviation found these market controls are free for the certificate holder.

In addition to product controls on the market, the International OEKO-TEX® Association employs independent auditors who carry out unannounced site inspections at companies with OEKO-TEX® 100 certification.

Process

There are five steps to get certified by OEKO-TEX® Standard 100:

1) Submission of Application and Test Samples

In this first step the applicant fills an application which consists of:

  • A description of the products to be tested
  • Details of the stages of processing carried out in order to make/manufacture the textile
  • A list of all dyestuffs and auxiliaries used
  • Safety data sheets for finishing agents
  • Copies of certificates for already certified source materials
  • Names of all the suppliers of all components of the product
  • Optional inclusion in the international OEKO-TEX® reference list or the shopping guide on the internet

The application is submitted to the test institute previously selected, together with representative test samples of the textile product or accessory. The test samples should be chosen so the entire product group is covered. The packing of test samples must satisfy quality requirements in order to protect the samples and guarantee the test results.

2) Testing

Following the systematic recording of the product and production data, the relevant test institute then draws up an individual test plan for the textile group to be tested. The textiles are then tested according to the parameter of OEKO-TEX® criteria catalogue following a specific worst-case methodology. Articles with the most coating add-on, the darkest colouring, or the highest quantity of finishing agents are therefore tested.

3) Compilation of Test Report

The applicant is informed of the results in the form of a test report which initially relates exclusively to the sample tested.

4) Submission of a declaration of conformity

In order to be allowed to mark the products with OEKO-TEX® label, the applicant must guarantee in a declaration of conformity that the products manufactured and/or sold should correspond to the tested sample with respect to their human and ecological quality throughout the entire period of validity of the certificate.

Accordingly, the relevant test institute must also be provided with credible evidence of all quality assurance taken within the company.

5) Issue of Certification

Following submission of the declaration of conformity, the applicant receives a valid OEKO-TEX® certificate from the authorised test institute for the successfully tested products. This authorises the company/factory to mark its products in retail with the OEKO-TEX® label.

If the company is new to the system it has to be visited within 6 months to check the situation in the mill for compliance with the data presented in the application form.

Timing

The time it takes from application to the issue of a certificate varies greatly and is highly dependent on individual factors and complexity of the case. Very simple cases can be finished within one week, whereas complex cases can require multiple communications with sub-suppliers which can increase the processing time substantially.

Audit Team

Only authorised OEKO-TEX® institutes in Europe or Japan, or their information centers, are able to perform the tests

Frequency

An OEKO-TEX® certificate is valid for 12 months. At the end of this time, it can be renewed for another year. This approach is recommended to ensure continuous product safety and smooth processes all along the textile production chain.

Certification and License Fee

The financial cost of certification according to OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 consists of a license fee and laboratory costs. The precise costs for tests for harmful substances depend on the tests involved for each product in question. A preliminary estimate of these costs can be obtained from the OEKO-TEX® institute that has been commissioned to carry out the test. The overall cost/year may vary from as little as € 1500.00 (simple case) to several thousand € for complex and difficult certifications where a high number of tests are necessary.  Financial outlays can be reduced by using source materials that have already been certified to avoid duplicate tests.

Certificate Sample

oekotex100_certificate_sample

Implementation Tools

Tools

The OEKO-TEX® Association website carries a list of brands and products that are licensed according to the OEKO-TEX® Standard. It also provides a list of certificates that have been withdrawn because they were found to be faulty during the regular product controls.

The Association’s web site also allows customers to check the validity of the certificates online if they have the label number. This allows them to find information about the validity status, the product class and the articles covered by the certificate discouraging false claims.

Manual/Procedures

OEKO-TEX® provides the following resources to help companies become authorised to use the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 mark:

Labeling

Process

The label is a registered trademark that shows “Confidence in Textiles – Tested for Harmful Substances according to OEKO-TEX® Standard 100”. Each label carries the individual certificate number and the name of the institute issuing the certification. The license to use the logo is granted for period of 12 months.

Applicability

If all the conditions of OEKO-TEX® standard 100 are satisfied, if the tests do not demonstrate any deviations from the details provided by the applicant, and if the test values do not exceed the given limit values, a certificate will be issued entitling the applicant/factory/company/products to use the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 mark during the period of validity

The OEKO-TEX® label must contain the certificate number and the name of the responsible test institute.

Additional texts which go beyond the authorised wording of the test label must only be applied outside of the label.

Currently, there are nearly 40 authorised language versions of the label available. There exists also the possibility to merge several languages in the same label.

Fee

The license fee for using the label is already included it in the certification payment. Graphical symbols in every available language in some widely used data format are also free of charge, whereas special wishes (combination of languages, other data formats. etc. are charged separately.

Graphic Example

oekotex100_graphic_example

Appendix

Contact Information

OEKO-TEX® Association
Splügenstrasse 10 8002 Zürich
SWITZERLAND

T: +41 44 206 4235
F: +41 44 206 4251
info@Oeko-Tex.com
www.Oeko-Tex.com

Bibliography

http://www.milieucentraal.nl/pagina?onderwerp=Keurmerk%20kleding

http://www.cbi.eu/marketinfo/cbi/docs/international_consumer_health_label_ko_tex_for_textiles

http://www.copperwiki.org/index.php?title=Oeko-Tex