Sustainable Certification - Social and Environmental

This is the final article of the Sourcing Guide series, which provides details of organisations that can certify both environmental and social sustainability.


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.


The social impact considers the effects on the employees of the brand and throughout the supply chain regarding wages, well-being and working conditions. Also, the social impacts extend to the effects of the manufacturing processes on the well-being of those connected to it. This includes the effects on people and animals connected to the materials and processes used in the manufacturer of the products.

B Corporation

Where is the company based?

B Corporation was founded in Pennsylvania, New York.

What do they focus on?

B Corporation is one of the most well-known sustainability accreditors. The certifier employs a holistic view of the companies and uses a rating system to guide assessment. The assessment criteria involve:

  • Governance
  • Workers
  • Community
  • Environment
  • Customers

The cost?

This cost is dependent on the size of the company starting from £500 per year.

Source: B Corporation



Where is the company based?

OEKO-TEX is a sustainability certification organization based in Switzerland, with clients globally.

What do they focus on?

OEKO-TEX is a union of leading institutions developing methods and standards for assessing the environmental and social sustainability across 60 countries. The partnership is built on sharing the responsibility for promoting and implementing these standards. OEKO-TEX has the capacity to verify the sustainability of raw materials to ready-made products.

OEKO-TEX has developed the six following certifications:


This traces the materials in the textile or product by testing for harmful chemicals to ensure environmental sustainability. Also, this certifies that social sustainability has been maintained throughout the manufacture of a product’s supply chain.


This test the materials or products for harmful substances, to verify environmental sustainability.


This traces the sustainability of leather materials and products along every stage of the production supply chain. OEKO-TEX does not certify exotic leather skins from animals such as crocodiles and snakes.


This is a certification system used to certify the sustainability of brands, retailers and manufacturers throughout the fashion industry. This allows companies to become transparent about their sustainability at every stage of the business.


This provides assessment and guides for companies working towards the Greenpeace DETOX goals.


This traces the environmental sustainability of the chemicals, colourants and accessories used along the entire supply chain for making textile and fashion items.This also verifies that the substances used are safe for humans.

Source: OEKO-TEX


Responsible Wool (RWS)

Where is the company based?

Responsible Wool Standard has been developed and processed by the Textile Exchange based in the USA. This is voluntary of standard for farmers to businesses in the wool industry with numerous RWS certified farmers worldwide.

What do they focus on?

For a product to be certified with the RWS label, the sustainability of the wool must be traced from the farm to manufacturer and brand selling the final product. This certification takes into account the animal welfare, land management and social sustainability.

Source: Textile Exchange


World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO)

Where is the company based?

The World Fair Trade Organisation is located in the Netherlands but it works with companies around the world.

What do they focus on?

The purpose of the WFTO is to support fair-trade enterprises by developing partnerships and education to develop their businesses. This is rooted in building economic sustainability for a variety of workers, from artisans to factory workers. This organisation also considers the environmental impacts of the enterprises. They prioritise up-cycling initiatives, social enterprises, refugee support and women’s leadership.

Source: WTO


World Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP)

Where is the company based?

The company has its headquarters in the USA, with many offices worldwide.

What does the company focus on?

This globally recognized standard for textile manufacturing sustainability is built around 12 key principles. The principles are:

  • Compliance with laws and workplace regulations
  • Prohibition of forced labour
  • Prohibition of child labour
  • Prohibition of harassment or abuse
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Hours of work
  • Freedom of association and collective bargaining
  • Health and safety
  • Prohibition of discrimination
  • Environment
  • Customs compliance
  • Security

Source: WRAP


The Higg Index

Where is the company based?

The Higg Index was developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition based in California, USA.

What does the company focus on?

The Higg Index was developed as a sustainability assessment tool for retailers, brands and other fashion related businesses. This gives companies a holistic view of their practices from the well-being of factory workers to the environmental impact. This has been used by many fashion companies from high-street to luxury.

Source: Sustainable Apparel Coalition



Where is the company based?

LEED is a certification system that has been developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, based in the USA. This system is widely used around the world.

What does the company focus on?

The LEED rating system is designed to create buildings that are both socially and environmental sustainable. This is because the system takes into account the energy efficiency of the building as well as the impacts it will have on the surrounding communities in future generations.

Source: USGBC

This article is part of our Sustainable Certifications Guide series of articles. For more information on sustainability certifications options, please have a look at our related articles.

Sustainable Certifications Guide Part 1 – Environmental

Sustainable Certifications Guide Part 2- Social

Fashion Transparency

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