Textile Exchange’s Position on Reports of Forced Labor

UPDATE: August 10, 2020

Textile Exchange is concerned and disturbed about the continued reports of forced labor in the Xinjiang region of China, where most of China’s organic cotton is grown.

Textile Exchange does not condone forced or child labor.

Textile Exchange works to accelerate environmentally sustainable practices in the textile value chain. This goes hand-in-hand with social responsibility expectations to ensure that the rights of all people, particularly workers, are respected. We encourage companies to be part of the solution to systemic problems by:

  • Making long-term investments and prioritizing supply chain transparency.
  • Adhering to globally recognized, credible, third-party social standards that prohibit the use of forced or child labor, and take immediate action to identify, prevent or mitigate, and account for how actual and potential adverse impacts are addressed. This may include sourcing elsewhere when expectations are not met.
  • Using economic power to push for policy changes that support human rights.
  • Seeking advice from organizations with expertise on social and/or labor issues, such as the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to make the most environmentally sound and socially just sourcing decisions.

Textile Exchange will hold a breakout session on this topic at the 2020 virtual Textile Sustainability Conference and will continue to track the situation while reporting on organic cotton production worldwide.

Textile Exchange’s overall intent is to work together as an industry to invest in a future that supports cotton production methods that protect both the planet and all its people.

How Textile Exchange works:

  • Textile Exchange does not condone or support any forms of forced or child labor, and we are greatly disturbed by the reports of it happening in the Xinjiang region.
  • Textile Exchange reports data on certified organic cotton production in the annual Organic Cotton Market Report that has been submitted to us, analyzed, and cross-referenced in accordance with our Methodology (transparently available at the back of each report we produce). We include the data received from every producing country (22 countries in 2018/19) in this report and the Preferred Fiber and Materials Market Report to create a complete picture of the global supply.
  • Textile Exchange’s priority is to ensure the accuracy and quality of our data, management systems, and reporting. In 2018, Textile Exchange achieved independent third-party verification on its organic cotton data processes to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standard and Accountability Principles for the Organic Cotton Market Report (OCMR). Textile Exchange has since continued to adhere to the same process for its organic cotton data collection and analysis.
  • Textile Exchange owns the Organic Content Standard (OCS), which addresses chain of custody for tracking and labeling organically grown cotton from post-harvest (gin-onwards) to the final product. The OCS relies on the role of farm standards that apply to the production (growing) of organic cotton.
  • Textile Exchange owns the Content Claim Standard (CCS), which is the foundation of the OCS, and all of Textile Exchange’s standards. The CCS provides companies with a tool to verify that one or more specific input materials are in a final product. Steps Textile Exchange is taking to stop human rights violations through the CCS, include:
    • A new allowance (released June 1, 2020) for certification bodies to take action should they witness unacceptable practices. (This is currently treated as a recommendation and is not required to be audited against. The discussion of whether this becomes a mandatory auditing requirement will be discussed with the International Working Group during the CCS revision. To join this revision process, contact us.)
      • The certification body should issue a critical non-conformity to any organization or site where evidence suggests that any of the following practices (collectively, the unacceptable practices) are occurring:
        • The worst forms of child labor, as defined by ILO C182 – Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182); or
        • Forced labor, as defined by ILO C029 – Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29).
      • Another interim step is the allowance to include “country/region of origin” of the raw material on transaction certificates. Again, before this becomes mandatory, a required review and feedback period is required. If this information is carried forward on all transaction certificates, it would allow companies to make sourcing decisions of their own that may be out of the scope of Textile Exchange standards.

Contact Us:

Media or Communications: Kostas Lazrou (Kosta@textileexchange.org), Marketing and Communications, Director

Membership Support: Membership@TextileExchange.org