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Oeko-Tex Standard 100 or Öko-Tex Standard 100 (sometime misspelled Oktex) is an independent testing and certification system for textile products from all stages of production (fibres, yarns, fabrics, ready-to-use end products, including accessories) along the textile value chain.
The label 'Confidence in Textiles' of the product-related Oeko-Tex Standard 100 (textiles tested for harmful substances) is supplemented by the certification of environmentally friendly production facilities according to Oeko-Tex Standard 1000 and by the product label Oeko-Tex Standard 100plus for products tested for harmful substances from environmentally friendly production.
It was developed in 1992.
The global standard is issued by the International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile Ecology (Oeko-Tex) with headquarters in Zurich (Switzerland). It currently includes 15 neutral test and research institutes in Europe and Japan with contact offices in over 60 countries around the world. The internationally standardised criteria catalogue for testing for harmful substances is regularly modified and expanded.
Oeko-Tex Standard 100
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Oeko-Tex Standard 100 was introduced by the Hohenstein Institute and the Institute for Ecology, Technology and Innovation ÖTI (Vienna/Austria) in 1992. The aim was to make textile products from conventional production having undergone laboratory testing for harmful substances obvious to consumers by using a label ('Confidence in Textiles'). Textiles with this label are proven to remain below the set limit values for certain harmful substances.
At the same time the introduction of the standard established a globally standardised quality assurance system for manufacturers and retailers to take into account the decreasing vertical range of manufacture in the individual facilities of the textile and clothing industry and to compensate for regionally different evaluation standards for the risk potential of harmful substances. Use of the Oeko-Tex certificate therefore documents compliance with human ecology quality towards subsequent production levels and end consumers.
Textile products can only be certified according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100 if all components comply with the required criteria – for an item of clothing this could be in addition to the outer fabric e.g. threads, prints, buttons/zips/studs or any other accessory parts. Extent and requirements of Oeko-Tex testing for harmful substances depend on the intended use of a textile product – the more intensive the skin contact, the stricter the limit values that may not be exceeded. There are four product categories: 1. I – Items for babies and infants (up to 36 months of age) 2. II – Items with direct prolonged or large-area skin contact 3. III – Textiles without or with little skin contact 4. IV – Furnishing materials (for decoration purposes)
After successful laboratory testing and signing of a declaration of conformity the manufacturer receives the Oeko-Tex certificate for their product which is valid for one year. After a repeat test, existing certificates can be extended for a period of one year in each case.
The test criteria and limit values on which Oeko-Tex testing for harmful substances is based are globally binding and are modified and expanded each year. The test parameters include: 1. substances banned by law 2. substances regulated by law 3. substances known to be harmful to health which have not yet been explicitly regulated by law 4. parameters for safeguarding health
Textile products are tested for e.g. formaldehyde, pesticides, extractable heavy metals, organochloride carriers as well as preservatives such as tetra and pentachlorophenol. The textiles are also checked for (legally banned) carcinogenic MAK amines from special azo dyes as well as for dyestuffs which have scientifically proven allergenic potential. Furthermore all tested items must have a skin-friendly pH value and good colour fastness. The current revision of the test criteria is available at the official website.
To verify compliance with the required limit values the Oeko-Tex Association carry out annual product checks to the extent of at least 15% of all issued Oeko-Tex certificates.
The control tests include
- verification of provided documents
- laboratory tests on provided sample materials
- laboratory tests on items with Oeko-Tex label which are available in stores
- laboratory tests on random product samples which are taken unannounced from certified companies
In addition to this, independent auditors check the production conditions in certified companies during site visits.
Prevalence and awareness
Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is the product label for textiles tested for harmful substances with the largest prevalence worldwide. More than 8,500 manufacturers in over 80 countries currently participate in Oeko-Tex certification (as of 12/2009). To date the Oeko-Tex Association has issued over 100,000 certificates for textile products from all stages of production (as of 12/2009).
According to a consumer survey by GfK in 2006, the label 'Confidence in Textiles' has a supported customer awareness level of over 46% in Germany. A consumer survey by BBE Retail Experts carried out in seven European countries (Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands) in 2008 found an average awareness level of 42% for the Oeko-Tex label.
Oeko-Tex Standard 1000
As a supplement to product certification according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, the Oeko-Tex Standard 1000, which was introduced in 1995, is a certification system for environmentally friendly production sites in the textile and clothing industry. The aim is to test and certify the production conditions at a certain textile production site. Verification is carried out by independent auditors from one of the 14 member institutes of 'Oeko-Tex International - Association for the Assessment of Environmentally Friendly Textiles'. The certificate is valid for three years and has to be renewed regularly.
The guiding principle of certification according to Oeko-Tex Standard 1000 is not a one-off optimisation of environmental measures but rather the permanent improvement of overall environmental performance within a company.
The precondition for certification of a production facility is also the introduction of an environmental management system where already existing systems such as ISO 14001 or EMAS can be fully taken into account for certification according to Oeko-Tex Standard 1000.
The test criteria of Oeko-Tex Standard 1000 include, among others:
- exclusion of environmentally harmful technologies, chemicals and auxiliary materials (e.g. ban of chlorine bleach)
- compliance with guide values for waste water and exhaust air treatment
- economical use of energy resources
- avoidance of noise and dust pollution
In addition to this the standard stipulates compliance with social criteria such as certain minimum requirements for workplace safety, ban on child labour/discrimination/forced labour or adequate working times/holidays/wages.
Oeko-Tex Standard 100plus
If a company meets the requirements of Oeko-Tex Standard 1000, i.e. there is an audited environmentally friendly production facility and the products have been successfully tested for harmful substances according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, then these products can be labelled with the Oeko-Tex Standard 100plus. This then means that they were tested for harmful substances and produced in an environmentally friendly and socially acceptable manner. Another precondition for this is, however, that the entire production chain – i.e. all production facilities involved in the manufacturing of a product – are certified as environmentally friendly according to Oeko-Tex Standard 1000.
The following institutes currently belong to the International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile Ecology (Oeko-Tex®):
- AITEX, Instituto Tecnológico Textil
- ASQUAL, Association pour la Promotion de l’Assurance Qualité dans la Filère Textile-Habilement
- CENTEXBEL Belgian Textile Research Centre
- CENTROCOT, Centro Tessile Cotoniero e Abbigliamento S.p.A.
- CITEVE, Centro Tecnológico das Indústrias Têxtil e do Vestuário de Portugal
- CLOTEFI S.A / ETAKEI
- CSIR National Fibre Textile and Clothing Centre
- DTI Tekstil, Teknologisk Institut
- Hohenstein Textile Testing Institute
- IFTH, Institut Français de l'habillement et du textile
- Instytut Wlókiennictwa
- NISSENKEN, Japan Dyer’s Inspection Institute Foundation
- Öko-Tex® Association, Secretariado
- ÖTI - Institut für Ökologie, Technik und Innovation GmbH
- Oeko-tex® Zertifizierungsstelle GmbH
- SWEREA IVF AB Shirley Technologies Ltd.
- TESTEX Swiss Textile-Testing Ltd
- VUTCH-Chemitex spol. s r.o.
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