Textile Exchange Standards FAQs

Certification

A Membership in Textile Exchange is not required for and does not authorize the use of Textile Exchange’s standards. Certification to standards can only be achieved through an approved Certification Body. Visit the Textile Exchange website to learn more about Membership and about how to get certified to Textile Exchange standards.

The general steps to becoming certified are:

1. Select an approved Certification Body (CB) – see list HERE – the CB will be your main point of contact for the certification and labeling processes
2. Send application
3. Schedule audit
4. On-site audit
5. Follow-up (if needed)
6. Receive Certification Decision

The cost of certification will vary depending on many different factors including: standard, number of sites, location, complexity of facilities, time needed to audit, and more. Furthermore, Certification Bodies set their own price, so it is best to inquire with a few different ones before applying for certification through them. In general, we estimate certification costs can be anywhere from $1,500-8,000 USD depending on the standard and overall situation.

This depends on whether or not you would like to make any product-specific claims (labeling, product webpage, etc.) about your use of a standard. Furthermore, it will depend on whether or not your brand sells products through a retailer. Textile Exchange requires all sites up through to the seller in the final business-to-business transaction to become certified in order to make a product-specific claim. 

The basic principles are the same, but the application and scope will vary based on the business model of the brand. View this video for more details.

To assure that a specific shipment of products received is certified to a Textile Exchange standard, a buyer can (and should) ask their certified supplier to provide a Transaction Certificate (TC). This document is issued by the Certification Body (CB) of the supplier and lists the actual certified products and shipment details including the buyer’s name and address and declares the certification status of the shipped goods.

Companies that have demonstrated the ability to comply with the relevant standard requirements by an approved Certification Body (CB) will be issued a Scope Certificate (SC). This certificate lists the products which can be offered certified and labelled to the standard. Before ordering certified product from a supplier, you should make sure that their certificate is still valid, and that the product you are ordering is listed on the certificate.

The best way to verify a certification is by contacting the Certification Body who issued the certificate. You can also check our online list of certified companies (Scope Certificate holders), but please note that this list may not be up to date. 

You can find a list of certified companies on our website at TextileExchange.org/Integrity/Find-Certified-Companies. Due to restrictions on sharing data, we are not allowed to give out contact details of any certified company; you may try contacting them through their Certification Body.

Our website listing of certified companies is based on the most recent data reports sent to us by the Certification Bodies. Please understand that there can be a delay in the sending of reports, and therefore our list is not always up-to-date. Contact the CB that issued the certificate in question to verify if you don’t see it listed on our website.

You can find the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) translated into Spanish here.  

The Responsible Down Standard is available in Chinese, Hungarian, German, and Ukrainian and can be found here.

We are please to offer customized trainings to our members; alternatively, for non-members, there may be a cost associated for any type of training. Please contact Integrity@TextileExchange.org to discuss further. 

You can also find recorded webinars here.

We are happy that you want to write about one of our standards! All media requests must go through Communications@TextileExchange.org. Since we are so busy, we prefer to answer questions via email first, and if more information is needed, we can schedule a call.

Contact Assurance@TextileExchange.org for more information regarding this process.

Textile Exchange has guidelines in place for products that are labeling with mention of the RCS or GRS. We do not require companies to mention pre-consumer or post-consumer content separately. This is in keeping with the guidelines found in the United Standard Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides.

If you are not using the RCS or GRS logo on the final product, you should check with labeling laws in the country of sale. The FTC applies in the United States.

As a recommendation, we think it is generally a good idea to mention this separate materials, as consumers will likely assume that recycled material was collected from post-consumer sources.

Logo Use & Claims

No. Only Certification Bodies are authorized to approve your use of a Textile Exchange Standard logo. They have in-depth knowledge of the standard and our Logo Use and Claims Guides and will use them to approve your company’s logo use or claim.

No. Logos must be obtained through the Certification Body that you or your supplier are working with for certification. Textile Exchange will only issue logos for specific uses by media or other partners who wish to promote Textile Exchange Standards.

Translations are fine to perform yourself and the control is through the certification body’s Label Release. It is their responsibility to check the translation that is in the Label Release application with artwork.

Textile Exchange requires all sites to be certified through to the seller in the last business-to-business transaction in order to be allowed to label with the relevant standard logo; generally, the last stage to be certified is the garment manufacturer or the brand. Therefore, if you are a brand that sells products to retailers, then you must be certified if you want to make a Product-Specific Claim. Please also note that all requests for logo use and subsequent approval of artwork must go through your Certification Body.

For more guidance, see the Logo Use & Claims Guide for the standard you are using.

We recommend having a strong verification in place for any claim made on a product. You should also be sure to check the labeling laws in the country of sale. Textile Exchange Standards are voluntary; companies are not required to label with the standards and we do not place restrictions on labeling language that is not used in association with our standards.

A General Marketing Claim is any claim that does not reference a specific product. All General Marketing claims shall be true, accurate, and not misleading. All claims shall be able to be verified through certification documents.

These claims may indicate or imply that a company meets the requirements of a standard, purchases certified products, or has made a certain level of commitment to the standard.

Examples include: information on a website, language in CSR report or commitment, banners at a trade show, mention of the standard in an advertisement, catalogue, or point of sale marketing.

Any number or wording that indicates exact % or volume of certified Claimed Material or products is NOT allowed.

*Note: Both types of claims can be used in business-to-business or consumer-facing communications, and logo use is NOT mandatory.

A Product Specific-Claim is any claim that references a specific product. All claims shall be able to be verified through certification documents.

Examples include:

  • Product hangtags/sewn-in labels
  • Online product description
  • Catalogue product description
  • Point of sale marketing where the claim is connected to a specific product

All Product-Specific claims shall include the following:

  1. Standard Logo Certification Body’s name and/or logo
  2. Certified Organization’s name and/or logo as it appears on the Scope Certificate and/or certification number provided by the CB)

The qualifications for making a Product-Specific Claim are:

  1. Final Product Certification
    Textile Exchange Standards require all sites to be certified through to the seller in the last business-to-business transaction. Usually the last stage to be certified is the garment manufacturer or the brand.

  2. Minimum Content
    The product must meet the minimum content percentages for each standard in order to be eligible for a product-specific claim (as outlined in the relevant Logo Use & Claims Guide).

  3. Claim Approval
    All claims/label artwork must be approved by the Certification Body you or your direct supplier are working with for certification; they will be checking to make sure you have followed the specifications in the Logo Use & Claims Guide relevant to the standard you are claiming.

Content Claim Standard (CCS)

The Content Claim Standard (CCS) is a chain of custody standard that provides companies with a tool to verify a specific input material in a final product. It requires that each organization along the supply chain take sufficient steps to ensure that the integrity and identity of the input material are preserved. All Textile Exchange Standards apply the Content Claim Standard as the chain of custody requirements used to track materials from the source to the final product. This allows for sites to become certified to multiple Textile Exchange standards with minimal additional auditing required.

Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) & Global Recycled Standard (RCS)

The Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) is a chain of custody standard to verify and track recycled raw materials through the supply chain. It does not address the use of chemicals or any social or environmental aspects of production beyond the integrity of the recycled material. The RCS uses the chain of custody requirements of the Content Claim Standard (CCS). 

The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) is a full product standard to verify and track recycled raw materials through the supply chain. It also includes processing criteria to prevent the use of potentially hazardous chemicals, and verifies positive social or environmental production at the facilities. The GRS uses the chain of custody requirements of the Content Claim Standard (CCS). 

No, the Global Recycled Standard certification does not automatically include RCS certification. However, you can easily add the RCS to your existing certification by contacting your Certification Body. Typically, another audit is not necessary because the requirements of the RCS are covered by GRS as well. The best option is to request certification to the GRS and RCS at the same time. 

The RCS and GRS are the same, except that the GRS being a more rigorous standard; in the GRS, there is a higher minimum content percentage (50%) and additional processing requirements that must be met (social, environmental, and chemical).

We typically estimate that the time from application to certification is 6-8 weeks for either standard (RCS or GRS). RCS costs are estimated to be around $3000-$5,000. Because the GRS includes additional audits for social, chemical, and environmental requirements, the price of certification is usually estimated to be around $7000-$9,000 USD. In addition to many different factors that affect the cost, the amount is ultimately determined by the Certification Body who audits against the standards, so you should reach out to a few different certification bodies for quotes.

You can use the GRS as a business-to-business tool for any products that contain at least 20% recycled content, but if you want to use consumer-facing labeling, the product must contain at least 50% recycled content.

Organic Content Standards (OCS)

The Organic Content Standard (OCS) is a chain of custody standard to track organic raw materials (certified to an IFOAM-approved organic farm standard) through the supply chain. It does not address the use of chemicals or any social or environmental aspects of production beyond the integrity of the organic material. The OCS uses the chain of custody requirements of the Content Claim Standard (CCS).

The difference between the OCS and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is that GOTS has additional processing requirements that must be met, in addition to having a 70% minimum content percentage requirement and restrictions on other the fibers that are allowed to be blended.

Responsible Animal Fibers

The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) ensures that down and feathers come from ducks and geese that have been treated with respect to their Five Freedoms. Farms and slaughterhouses are certified to a set of strict animal welfare criteria, including the prohibition of live-plucking and force-feeding. Down and feather material from RDS farms are tracked using the chain of custody requirements of the Content Claim Standard (CCS). 

The RDS is intended to be used for down and feathers that come from waterfowl (including ducks and geese). The raising systems for other types of birds are very different and the standard would not be as useful in those scenarios.

The RDS is not designed to provide full supply chains transparency. A brand may take the decision to do this additional investigation, but it is not included as part of the RDS. If you are interested in doing the work of identifying all of these sites, then you would need to work directly with your suppliers and request that they disclose their sources to you.

The Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) aims to provide the industry with a tool to recognize the best practices of farmers; ensuring that wool comes from farms with a progressive approach to managing their land, and from sheep that have been treated with respect to their Five Freedoms. Farms are certified to a set of strict animal welfare and land management criteria, including non-mulesing of sheep. Wool from RWS farms is tracked using the chain of custody requirements of the Content Claim Standard (CCS). 

You can find details about how to become certified on our website: http://responsiblewool.org/certification/ You may also find the supply chain certification toolkit useful. You can access this here: http://responsiblewool.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/RWS-Supply-Chain-Certification-Toolkit.pdf

It is very difficult to predict how much an individual certification will cost. The Certification Body performing the audit and granting the certificate determines the price of RWS certification. There are several factors that determine the cost: country, travel required by the auditor, overall time spent auditing, and the size and scope of the farm. The best way for a farm to lower the cost of the audit is to be well prepared for the audit ahead of time so that it is done quickly and successfully the first time. For farms that are certified as a group, the same factors will affect the cost of certification, but those costs are distributed across the member farms. The manager of the Internal Control System can significantly reduce the costs by ensuring that there is strong oversight throughout the year, and that all member farms understand the standard, and what will happen during the audit.

The RWS is not designed to provide full supply chains transparency. A brand may take the decision to do this additional investigation, but it is not included as part of the RWS. If you are interested in doing the work of identifying all of these sites, then you would need to work directly with your suppliers and request that they disclose their sources to you.

Gifted Standards

In 2018, Textile Exchange was gifted five new Standards by Control Union. In 2019, each Standard will undergo its own internal assessment process to determine how it will fit into Textile Exchange’s portfolio of offerings. The five gifted Standards are in different stages of their lifecycle. Some are currently in use by members of our community while others are in development through piloting and research. Each of the five gifted Standards will undergo their own assessment between now and early 2020 to determine how they will fit into Textile Exchange’s product offering. This FAQ document seeks to address the most common questions asked and will be amended periodically as new questions come in.  

One of Textile Exchange’s key goals is to ensure that actions taken toward sustainability result in real and meaningful change. We see independent standards as one of the strongest available tools to verify the work companies are doing to make a positive impact, as well as promoting continuous improvement through regular revision of the Standards. Textile Exchange creates, administrates, revises, and provides guidance for the following current standards: Content Claim Standard (CCS), Organic Content Standard (OCS), Recycled Claim Standard (RCS), Global Recycled Standard (GRS), Responsible Down Standard (RDS), and Responsible Wool Standard (RWS). You can learn more here.

In 2018, Textile Exchange was gifted five new Standards by Control Union. The five gifted Standards are in different stages of their lifecycle. Some are currently in use by our community while others are in development through piloting and research.  

In 2019, each Standard will undergo its own internal assessment process to determine how and if it will fit into Textile Exchange’s portfolio of offerings. By early 2020, we want to have a clear understanding of what to do with each of the five gifted Standards 

There are two potential outcomes of the assessment for each Standard: 

  1. Textile Exchange will take the Standard into its portfolio of offerings. 
  2. Textile Exchange will not take the Standard into its formal portfolio of offerings.  In this instance, it may be that the Standard would be utilized as an industry guideline.  The review process will determine the best use of the resource. 

The gifted Standards review process is led by Trini Gantner who has a background in the technical writing and development of standards, project management, research, multi-stakeholder engagement, and process implementation and optimization. Over the past couple of years, Trini played a key role in the development of fair trade standards across multiple product categories. The apparel and textile space has always carried a special place in her heart and she is eager to co-create its future. She is the person behind GiftedStandards@TextileExchange.org. Contact her at any time with any questions, comments or concerns you may have. 

Each recommendation will be informed by outcomes of an assessment against mission fit, ability to transform and support the industry in driving meaningful change and business opportunity. Analysis, Research and Stakeholder Engagement are the tools we’ll use to guide each assessment. 

The assessment process work stream is separate from Textile Exchange’s existing Standards work. If the Textile Exchange Governance Board has determined that a Standard will be taken into Textile Exchange portfolio of offerings at the end of the assessment period, the Standard will then undergo the same ISEAL compliant revision process as all our current Standards. 

We are looking for our community’s expertise and thought partnership as we determine each Standard’s future and will be launching two surveys to tap into your expertise. The intent of the first survey is to get an overview over subject matter experts in the Standard’s respective field. Stakeholders who identified themselves as subject matter experts in the first survey will receive an invitation to a second survey that will ask for more in-depth information around key assessment criteria related to the Standard (see topics in grey buckets in the diagram under question 3). We will also post a survey link to the Standard we’re assessing at the time on the Gifted Standards Review website as well. Following the project close in early 2020, we will make available high level summaries of the decisions made (including feedback we received). 

The assessment process is staggered, and we are working on more than one Standard at any given time to arrive at a recommendation to the Board as quickly as possible. By early 2020, our goal is to have a clear understanding of the future of each of the five gifted Standards and how they fit into Textile Exchange’s product offering. 

Generally speaking, new Standards come into play whenever a gap is identified in the industry that merits a new Standard. An identified industry gap in animal welfare standards with a chain of custody element is what led Textile Exchange to develop the Responsible Down Standard and Responsible Wool Standard, as well as commencing the current work on leather, mohair and cashmere. As ISEAL members, we will follow the ISEAL standard-setting code whenever we bring a new Standard to the market. The process for the gifted Standards assessment is a little different as we are not revising or creating new Standards at this time. We are assessing existing documents to determine the role of the standard in Textile Exchange’s product offering. If the Textile Exchange Governance Board has determined that a Standard will be taken into Textile Exchange portfolio of offerings at the end of the assessment period, the Standard will then undergo the same ISEAL compliant revision process as all our current Standards.

As ISEAL members, we will follow the ISEAL standard-setting code whenever we bring a new Standard to the market. The process for the gifted Standards assessment is a little different as we are not revising or creating new Standards at this time. We are assessing existing documents to determine the role of the Standard in Textile Exchange’s product offering. If the Textile Exchange Governance Board has determined that a Standard will be taken into Textile Exchange portfolio of offerings at the end of the assessment period, the Standard will then undergo the same ISEAL compliant revision process as all our current Standards. 

For any questions, comments or concerns, please contact Trini via GiftedStandards@TextileExchange.org