The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) turned five years old in 2011, adding 80 new companies and another country (Kyrgyzstan) to the list of those with GOTS-certified facilities, expanding particularly in developed countries, accrediting a 14th certification organization, and receiving formal recognition by
the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By year's end, 2,714 facilities in 57 countries around the world were certified to the organic apparel and textile standard including 450 dyeing facilities, more than 220 spinning, knitting, and weaving units, and approximately 160 printing and manufacturing facilities.
GOTS is the stringent voluntary global standard for the entire post-harvest processing (including spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing and manufacturing) of apparel and home textiles made with organic fiber (such as organic cotton and organic wool), and includes both environmental and social provisions for post-farm to retail shelf management. Key provisions include a ban on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), highly hazardous chemicals such as azo dyes and formaldehyde, and child labor, while requiring living wages and strict waste water treatment practices. Because all fiber certified to GOTS must already be certified organic, GOTS certification means consumers are purchasing items certified organic from field to finished product.
The Top Twenty countries in terms of GOTS-certified facilities include India, Turkey, China, Pakistan, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea (South), Bangladesh, United Kingdom, France, United States (U.S.), Hong Kong, Greece, Peru, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, and Portugal. While the top four countries remained the same, Austria and Switzerland were new to the top rankings. Overall, the ten countries with the greatest increase in facilities gaining GOTS certification in 2011 were: Germany, India, the U.S., Austria,
Bangladesh, Switzerland, Greece, France, Belgium, and Denmark.
In the U.S., the number of facilities certified to GOTS increased 60 percent, from 25 to 40 facilities in 13 states (California, Connecticut, Ohio, Massachusetts, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, and South Carolina. The facilities make or distribute organic cotton and organic wool products ranging from batting to beds and bedding, fabrics, cosmetic rounds, and casual wear.
A milestone in the increasing recognition and acceptance of GOTS was reached on May 20, 2011, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a Policy Memorandum explicitly confirming that textile products produced in accordance with GOTS may be sold as 'organic' in the U.S. It further clarified that the use of U.S. National Organic Program (NOP)-certified fibers and third party certification of the textile products is a prerequisite for use of the term 'organic' in labeling of such products.
"The bottom line is that apparel or home textiles must meet either the USDA organic regulations or the Global Organic Textile Standard in the U.S., or they may not be labeled as an 'organic'product," said Marquardt.
According to a 2011 report by Textile Exchange, the global organic textiles industry grew 20 percent to an estimated $5.16 billion in 2010 and is projected to increase another 20 percent in 2011, resulting in an estimated $6.2 billion market in 2011 and $7.4 billion market in 2012.