Sustainable Certifications- Environmental Impact.

Sustainability and fashion transparency have become key issues for the fashion industry.

How can brands authenticate their sustainability claims?

The solution is complex.

This article is Part 1 of our Certifications Guides for sustainability in fashion industry. Here are 6 examples of companies that can accredit environmental sustainability.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact encompasses the lifecycle of a product, from the raw materials used in the manufacturing process to the disposal of the product. This takes into account the energy usage, water usage and air pollution involved in the lifecycle.


Cradle to Cradle

Where is the company based?

Cradle to Cradle is based in the California, USA and Amsterdam, Netherlands.

What do they focus on?

This certification accounts for the circular life-cycle of a product from yarn to decomposition. The company uses the following criteria to assess the sustainability of a product:

  • Materials Health – the safety of the materials to human and environment health
  • Material Reutilization – the number of times that the materials can be re-used
  • Renewable Energy and Carbon Management – the energy footprint of the product
  • Water Stewardship – the impact it has on the world’s water system to the processes involved in the manufacture
  • Social Fairness – the impact on the people and environment connected to the manufacture of the product

Source: Cradle to Cradle


Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Where is the company based?

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is made up of these four organisations:

  • Organic Trade Association (OTA) in the USA
  • Internationaler Verband der Naturtextilwirtschaft e.V. (IVN) (Germany)
  • Soil Association in the UK
  • Japan Organic Cotton Association (JOCA) in Japan

What does the company focus on?

GOTS focuses on certifying the sustainable organic status of natural fibres. This is done by tracing the materials the source of the raw materials to the manufacturer of the fibre.

Source: Global Standard


The Global Recycled Standard

Where is the company based?

The Global Recycled Standard is part of the certifications developed by the organisation Control Union in the United States.

What does the company focus on?

Control Union is a global network of organisations that originates from the agriculture industry. The organisations’ purpose is to promote and develop solutions for sustainable supply chains relating to the food, feed, forestry, biomass, bioenergy, social compliance and textiles markets.

The Global Recycle Standard ownership has been transferred to the Textile Exchange in 2011. The GRS provides the requirements for third-party audits related to the certifying the recycled content of a product. This service is applicable to companies involved in the ‘ginning, spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, printing and stitching’ textile production processes.

Source: Control Union



Where is the company based?

Bluesign is based in Switzerland and works with a range of companies globally.

What does the company focus on?

Bluesign focuses on tracing the sustainability of the textile supply chain from raw materials to final products. They act as an independent organisation that determines the environmental sustainability of a product. The organisation works with companies to develop and maintain more sustainable production solutions.

Source: Bluesign


Bra Miljöval

Where is the company based?

Bra Miljöval is a Swedish eco-labelling certification service also known as ‘Good Green Buy’ and ‘ Good Environmental Choice’ which is managed by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC).

What does the company focus on?

The service is used by a variety of industries from transportation to textiles. The intention behind the label is to allow consumers to choose products and services which have a less harmful environmental impact.

Source: Bra Miljöval


Carbon Trust Standard (CTS)

Where is the company based?

Carbon Trust has developed the CTS with the head office in the UK and other office locations in China, Singapore, The Netherlands, Mexico, and South Africa.

What does the company focus on?

Carbon Trust works as a partner with governments, companies and businesses to develop, implement and verify their carbon-neutral goals.

The Carbon Trust Standard involves the following:

  •  Carbon footprint
  • Water usage
  • Waste reduction practices
  • Promoting zero waste and reducing landfill
  • CO2 emissions in the supply chain

Source: Carbon Trust


Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Where is the company based?

The Forest Stewardship Council is based in Germany, with offices worldwide.

What does the company focus on?

The FSC has developed a forest management certification which certifies that the materials used from the forests are preserving sustainable ecosystems. The FSC certifications includes three labels; FSC 100%, FSC Mix and FSC Recycled.

The FSC principles:

  • Compliance with laws
  • Workers’ rights and employment conditions
  • Indigenous people’ rights
  • Community relations
  • Benefits from the forest
  • Environmental values and impact
  • Management planning
  • Monitoring and assessment
  • High conservation values
  • Implementation of management activities

Source: Forest Stewardship Council 

The journey to becoming a sustainably credited company can seem like a minefield. However, with thorough research and choosing certifications most align to a brand’s product category and values will make the process manageable.

Sustainable Certifications Guide Part 2 – Social Impact

Sustainable Certifications Guide Part 3 – Environmental and Social Impact

Fashion Transparency

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