AsureQuality – Suspension of CB Accreditation
Textile Exchange’s quality assurance program supports the credible and consistent certification of preferred fibers and materials according to the criteria in our suite of standards.
Our assurance system auditing and certification processes support a network of certification bodies. These certification bodies are required to conform with our policies and procedures to conduct audits and issue certificates to assess conformity with our standards. Certification bodies must maintain accreditation by conforming with these policies and procedures.
All certification bodies undergo assessment by an authorized accreditation body for our standards before beginning any auditing and certification work. Accreditation bodies are independent organizations that, in accordance with ISO/IEC 17011, assess certification bodies’ competency to perform certification activities with a given standard.
At least once per year certification bodies are assessed by their accreditation body to confirm their qualification and conformity with our requirements. This yearly assessment involves review at the certification body’s headquarters with key staff as well as shadow audits of client sites where the assessor observes the auditor’s performance. When non-conformities are identified, the certification body has a defined amount of time to correct them to maintain their accreditation status.
The process of suspension includes a due diligence process whereby the certification body may file an appeal to the accreditation body regarding the suspension decision, giving further credibility in case there are procedural issues with the accreditation body’s processes. Each accreditation body sets its own appeal timeline, which may result in several months passing before the final suspension and its consequences occur. If the certification body does not correct its non-conformities related to the suspension, a similar withdrawal procedure and timeline occur as defined by the accreditation body.
As part of the annual certification body assessment process in 2022, AsureQuality Limited was found to have non-conformities with Textile Exchange’s assurance requirements. These were not corrected within the required timeframes and as a result, their ability to provide certification services for Textile Exchange standards is affected.
IOAS, AsureQuality’s accreditation body, has suspended their accreditation for farm group scope for all RAF Textile Exchange standards (RWS, RMS, and RAS) effective March 29, 2023. Please note that this suspension applies to farm group scope only, and individual farm scope is not affected.
Transaction certificates previously issued by AsureQuality are still considered valid – unless otherwise notified by AsureQuality or Textile Exchange. To authenticate a transaction certificate issued by AsureQuality, please see the Textile Exchange transaction certificate portal.
Please note that IOAS has specified that AsureQuality is not permitted to accept new applications nor issue scope certificates to applications in process, nor issue extensions of scope for existing scope certificates while the suspension is active, effective as of March 29, 2023. We recognize the burden that this creates for the clients of this certification body. If and when the suspension is lifted, AsureQuality will be able to issue and revise scope certificates subject to Textile Exchange’s standard timelines.
The Withdrawal of Certification Body Licensing procedure (ASR-112-v2.0), section D details the requirements for certification bodies to communicate to their certification clients directly regarding how this suspension will impact their certification services.
If you are a certified client of AsureQuality, you should soon receive their notification. Below are some additional potential next steps and resources to assist you with the process:
- Contact your current certification body for more details regarding how this suspension may impact the certification services you receive.
- Should you wish to transfer your certification to an alternative certification body, please:
- Note that any such voluntary transfer may require another audit and be subject to its additional costs. See ASR-101-v2.1 section D4.12 for more details.
- Review this page of certification bodies licensed to certify against the relevant Textile Exchange standard(s) in your region and contact them for quotes to become newly certified by them.
- Note that generally, certification bodies may only issue transaction certificates for products shipped during the validity of the scope certificate they issued and therefore, they do not issue transaction certificates for products shipped under the validity of a scope certificate issued by another certification body. However, when an organization transfers between certification bodies (from the “preceding certification body” to the “succeeding certification body”, including when the transfer occurs at recertification), the succeeding certification body may issue transaction certificates for shipments from the time when the organization was certified with the preceding certification body, provided that all the conditions of calibration# 229 are met. Please contact your certification body for more information.
- Inform the chosen succeeding certification body of the circumstance and provide them a copy of this communication.
While Textile Exchange is disappointed by this situation and the conditions that will impact site certifications, these circumstances reflect the integrity and consistency of our assurance system. In turn, this helps to ensure greater credibility of our standards and of the entities that offer auditing and certification services.