The 500th STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification - on the right track

The social trend towards more sustainable living is spreading. Increasingly, conscious consumers are making careful purchasing decisions, demanding transparency and questioning claims - especially in clothing and textiles. As a result, consumers are favouring trustworthy brands and pressuring retailers and producers to help them live a more sustainable life.  

Companies are also assuming responsibility for the people and the planet, and preserving resources for future generations. They are committing to transparency and improvement along the textile chain while communicating their goals and progress. 

To support this movement towards greater sustainability, we created STeP by OEKO-TEX®, our modular certification system for production facilities in the textile and leather industry. STeP helps manufacturers, brands and trading companies implement environmentally friendly production processes on a long-term basis, optimise occupational safety and promote socially acceptable working conditions in production companies. Uniquely, STeP certification analyzes and evaluates production conditions holistically, e.g. chemicals management, environmental performance and social responsibility. The 6 STeP modules cover all areas of sustainable textile and leather production.

This month, we surpassed 500 STeP certifications awarded, worldwide. To celebrate this special milestone, we wanted to hear from companies about the impact STeP has had on their operations. 

Hill Xue is Sales Manager at Loftex China, one of the largest towel manufacturers in the world. Xue explains the company‘s decision to pursue the certification in 2014: 

„With the continuous improvement of domestic and international market demand for household textiles, social concern for sustainable development, and consumers' pursuit of a healthy green life, Loftex took this good opportunity to promote STeP by OEKO-TEX® ecological certification. With the upgrading of enterprise industrial equipment and management requirements, Loftex needed to improve the quality, environment and social responsibility management capabilities, the introduction of STeP certification meets precisely our needs.“ 

Since then, a lot has happened at the Chinese production facility. Not only has everyday life changed, but STeP has also influenced the company's ecological and social processes. 

„After receiving the STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification, it is elevating substantially the domestic and international image of Loftex, helping boost up the customer's confidence with Loftex, improving the services to our regular customers and developing new markets. Strengthening the environmental management, Loftex continuously optimizes the production technology, effectively improves the energy utilization, saves energy and increases efficiency, devotes to achieve the environment friendly, and the company aims to realize the healthy green sustainable development. In terms of social responsibility, we try to provide employees with a safer and more comfortable production environment, better social security benefits, reduce physical labor, enhance their business sense of belonging, and make positive contributions to local society.“ 

Susan Slabbert, Sustainability Specialist at Asia Pacific Rayon (APR) in Indonesia, has had similar experiences. The first fully integrated viscose rayon producer in Asia has been STeP certified since January 2020 and has already seen positive changes.  

„STeP has shifted the mindset of all our production employees always to incorporate the highest level of compliance, thrive to do better and make health and safety our most important priority in the workplace.“ 

„Sourcing, clean manufacturing and social stewardship represent critical pillars in our sustainability policy and form the foundation of our license to operate. We are proud to say that by incorporating the rigorous requirements of the STeP standard into our existing framework we were able to strengthen our core processes. This resulted in attaining a level 3 compliance for all six disciplines outlined in the standard.“  

In 2013, high-end shirt brand ETERNA became one of the first companies to earn STeP by OEKO-TEX®. Ralf Polito, Chief Operating Officer, explains why the decision was made to use the comprehensive facility label:  

„Our motivation was to set a new standard in terms of sustainability. While many of the certificates on the market were focusing on the usage of harmful substances within production, STeP offers a much broader base of sustainability topics, such as social compliance, safety, environment protection and quality.“ 

Meanwhile Eterna has leveraged their SteP certification into MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® labels on 100% of its shirts.  

„Sustainability has become the DNA of our employees. STeP has helped us to make the topic more tangible which enabled us to establish sustainability as part of our daily operations. For example, a potential new producer will be only taken into consideration under the condition that the plant owner is ready to certify its plant before we would start bulk production.“ 

Keith Lang, Senior Vice President, WestPoint Hospitality, has used the independent certification to validate sustainability claims and provide added value to customers.

„As the world begins to put more emphasis on the importance of sustainability efforts, we are finding higher frequency in businesses asking our position. The WestPoint Group has a rich history where responsibility to the environment and society is woven into our missions. We have achieved STeP certification in both Bahrain and Florida facilities; making WestPoint Home the first textile manufacturer in North America to reach this accreditation. STeP certification proves to customers our actions are credible and transparent. By partnering with the WestPoint Group, companies understand STeP is an added, marketable benefit which enhances validation of their own corporate responsibility mission. “

Learn more about our STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification here