Unified Standard

Introduction

Textile Exchange is committed to building credible, internationally recognized standards that include evaluation systems as well as assurance and monitoring. As a member of ISEAL, Textile Exchange follows three  Codes of Good Practice in addition to its own procedures for Standard Setting, Accreditation and Certification. All of Textile Exchange’s standards are international, voluntary standards that set requirements for third-party certification of material inputs and chain of custody.   

In July 2021, Textile Exchange began a comprehensive revision of its standards framework with the intent to embed its Climate+ strategy into a more unified standard system across its eight standards. “unified standard” is being used as a placeholder to refer to the development of the new standard system. A concurrent process is underway to establish a name for our future standard(s). 

 

Goals and Objectives

The objectives for the unified standard system are to meaningfully embed our Climate+ strategy into our standards, to streamline to a more harmonized system across our full scope of standards, and to create stronger communication at the consumer-facing level.   

The goals for the new unified standard system will be to drive the increased adoption of best practices in fiber and material production and sourcing that lead to positive impacts in line with our Climate+ goal, specifically to reduce GHG emissions, improve soil health, increase biodiversity, and improve use of water resources. Best practices also include key impact areas for animal welfare, human rights & livelihoods, chemical management, and waste reduction.  

Scope

The focus of the unified standard system will be on the fiber and material production level, in line with Textile Exchange’s strategy. We are also interested in exploring how to link facility-level certification or practices with our chain of custody. This scope decision will be made with feedback from stakeholders.  

Chain of custody through our Content Claim Standard will remain from source to the final product, with the brand being the last organization requiring certification in the supply chain.   

Needs Justification

Standards are a crucial tool to drive adoption of preferred fibers and materials and as such, there is the opportunity to use our standards as a driver towards our Climate+ goal. The unified standard will allow Textile Exchange to track progress more efficiently and effectively, while strengthening and adding more value to our existing certification system.  

Some existing standards address specific fibers or materials, but none offer a comprehensive approach to material sourcing in line with climate targets. In order to ensure the new standard system does not cause duplication of efforts, we are exploring an approach that would recognize initiatives in line with the outcomes identified for our standard.  

The unified standard system is an opportunity to: 

  • Monitor impact against our Climate+ goal. To ensure we are reaching our desired outcomes to reduce GHG emissions, Textile Exchange is planning to transition to a hybrid approach that maintains traditional practice-based requirements co-mingled with a more outcome-focused approach. 
  • Elevate the treatment of animals by reviewing new options for animal welfare.  
  • Improve supply chain practices in human rights, chemical management, and waste reduction. 
  • Address industry demands for new fiber and material types that our standards currently do not include.  The standard will explore options for adding new animal-based fibers, biosynthetic feedstocks, as well as forest-derived fibers such as manmade cellulosic fibers (MMCF).   
  • Increase adoption of innovative material substitutions.  Evaluate options for adding biosynthetics and assess eligibility requirements for recycled inputs.
  • Reduce the proliferation of standards in the industry by recognizing existing standard schemes through benchmarking. 

Timeline

We are anticipating publication of the new standard system in Quarter 4 of 2023 (subject to change), following a thorough multi-stakeholder review process.  * The GRS/RCS revision that we began in early 2021 will roll into the development of the unified standard system. 

Standards Transition 1

Decision Making

Textile Exchange is embarking on this journey in collaboration with an International Working Group (IWG). Previous IWGs have been established for each standard; with the creation of one unified standard system, we will focus on one IWG.  We remain connected to smaller subject matter expert groups that will inform the IWG. You can learn more about decision-making in our Standard Setting Procedure here.

How to Participate

Textile Exchange’s Standards Team is leading this revision process in close collaboration with the International Working Group. The public will have multiple opportunities to provide feedback throughout the revision process. Please continue to visit the unified standard website for updates.  

To share feedback on the unified standard system development please follow this link. 

International Working Group (IWG) members for the unified standard development

The IWG is the group of stakeholders actively engaged in the development or revision of a standard.  IWG members are approved by a designated review committee. All IWG members are required to sign a charter (IWG charter) Indicating their commitment to the goals of the standard and the time need to be engaged in the process. Together with the Textile Exchange secretariat, the IWG reviews, discusses, and guides decision-making on how to incorporate scope topic areas in the standard. The IWG approves the draft versions of the standard before they are ready for public consultation as well as the final standard before it is published. 

Representation is limited to no more than 24 members that bring the following knowledge and perspectives: 

  • Geography 
    • EMEA – Europe, Middle East, and Africa 
    • Americas – South, Central, and North America 
    • APAC – Asia Pacific/Oceania 
  • Industry 
    • Raw material producers including farms 
    • Supply chain companies 
    • Brands and retailers 
    • Certification bodies 
    • Civil society 
  • Climate 
    • Soil health 
    • Biodiversity 
    • Water resources 
    • Animal welfare 
    • Human rights 
    • Communities and smallholders 
Standards Transition 2