Product certification according to STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® provides companies along the textile chain with an ideal tool and clear added value for their operational quality assurance. The OEKO-TEX® certificate issued by the commissioned institute or the relevant certification centre is valid for a duration of 12 months. It documents that the listed items have successfully been tested according to the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® and meet the requirements for a joint product class.
On the basis of the worldwide standardised application of the OEKO-TEX® test criteria the certification according to STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® provides textile and clothing companies with more transparent supplier relationships and facilitates the flow of information regarding potential problematic substances.
This contributes to higher production security while increasing the sales opportunities for a company's products as a large number of purchasers within the textile processing chain now require the OEKO-TEX® criteria as an integral part of their terms and conditions of delivery.
Another advantage of the OEKO-TEX® system is the even distribution of costs for certification between all companies involved throughout the textile processing chain.
The responsibility for the human ecological safety of the manufactured product lies with the party who is in a position to change the use of chemicals in additives and finishes used in production.
By using already certified source materials it is also possible to avoid the financial expense for duplicate tests. On principle, tests are only carried out on anything which has been added at each individual stage of production.
Textile products may be certified according to STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® only if all components meet the required criteria without exception. The certification is carried out following a written application of the manufacturer to one of the authorised test institutes or official representative offices around the world. The submitted sample materials are tested exclusively at the member institutes in Europe and Japan to ensure a consistently high testing level.
One prerequisite for the award of certification by the commissioned test institute or the relevant certification centre is a declaration of conformity by the manufacturer stating that the successfully tested textile samples shall correspond at all times with the quality of the products manufactured or sold throughout the twelve month licence period.
Another prerequisite of OEKO-TEX® product certification are company audits where auditors from the OEKO-TEX® test institutes together with the applying company examine the company quality assurance and production processes to create best possible certification conditions and to ensure steady human ecology product quality for the duration of the certification.
The OEKO-TEX® certification furthermore includes regular product controls as a fixed part of the system. These are carried out on the market by the OEKO-TEX® institutes to ensure compliance with the required criteria on a regular basis.
The financial expense for OEKO-TEX® certification consists of the licensing fee, costs for company audits by the commissioned testing institute as well as laboratory costs (depending on the scope of testing). A preliminary estimate can be obtained from the appropriate institute at any time.
Certificates are extended for a processing fee. The costs for the laboratory tests depend on the tests required for the products which have been added.
The obligatory company audits by the commissioned testing institute are carried out every three years and will be charged together with the licensing fee on the due date.
- Initial certification
- Certificate renewals
- Certificate extensions
- Application with declaration of commitment
Prerequisite for product certification according to STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® is a formal, legally-binding application to an authorised institute of the International OEKO-TEX® Association. In addition to questions relating to the product declaration, each application form includes a declaration of commitment, forms to list suppliers of source materials, the dyestuffs and auxiliaries used and a sheet to provide an accurate description of samples for floor coverings, foams and mattresses.
The information provided by the manufacturer in the application for certification allows systematic recording of the flow of goods from the source materials through to the end product. The test institutes use this as a basis to determine the scope of testing and to create article groups which are as similar as possible, for testing according to the requirements of a common product class.
Accurate, complete information simplifies and accelerates the certification process. It is important that every company requires their own certificate for their sales products. This documents that the requirements of the OEKO-TEX® criteria catalogue have been consistently integrated in the company’s own quality assurance.
In order to systematically record the product data, the application form includes both general questions and mandatory fields which are specific to each individual stage of processing along the textile manufacturing chain. For example:
- Details of fibre constituents and fibre preparations (yarn manufacturers)
- List of yarn suppliers (fabric manufacturers)
- Details of dyeing, printing procedures and finishes used (finishers)
- Naming the suppliers of all components of the product, from fabric to internlinings and accessories (manufacturers of ready-to-wear clothing)
Declaration of commitment
By signing the declaration of commitment, the applicants assume responsibility for the accuracy of all data provided in the application. They undertake in particular to notify the relevant test institute or the responsible certification centre immediately of any changes to raw materials, technical procedures or recipes used.
Moreover, the company accepts the rules of the OEKO-TEX® certification system and undertakes to implement these correctly, e.g. when using the label. This also includes the obligation to ensure that all labelling and advertising of the products with the OEKO-TEX® label will cease upon expiry or in the event of the withdrawal of existing certificates.
- Selecting representative sample materials
Notes on selection
The test samples must be representative of the entire article group because this will define the wording of the article group to be certified.
An incomplete selection of samples can lead to limitation of the certified article group.
Packaging of the test samples has to meet certain quality requirements to protect the samples and ensure correct, reproducible and sound test results:
- Test samples have to be packaged individually in tear-proof polyethylene film or polyethylene bags to avoid contamination during transport.
- The packaging has to be closed by folding over twice and sealing with adhesive tape.
Packaging furnishing materials
- Package test samples in clear plastic bags individually and air-tight (compulsory for emission testing!).
- Make sure to include description of test samples according to appendix of the application for certification.
Avoid packaging test samples only in cardboard boxes and/or paper!
- Laboratory testing
After systematic recording of the product and production data the commissioned test institute first creates an individual test plan for the articles/article groups to be tested.
Then the textile is tested for the parameters of the OEKO-TEX® criteria catalogue in the framework of a clearly defined worst case method. That means testing is carried out on e.g. items with the thickest coating, the darkest dye or the highest level of finishing agents.
- Test report
Following the laboratory testing of the samples submitted by the applicant, the commissioned test institute draws up an individual test report stating that the test samples are representative for the article group to be certified.
The report documents the test results in detail, identifying deviations and improvements in particular. In line with the company's application testing is carried out according to the requirements of the selected product class. The relevant limit values for the product class in question are used as assessment criteria.
A note from the institute is attached to the test report recommending the award of a certificate for the requested article group on the basis of the test results, with details of the common product class. The costs for the tests carried out and the drawing up of the test report are invoiced by the institute.
- Declaration of conformity
In order to be entitled to mark or advertise successfully tested products with the label “Confidence in Textiles”, applicants must make a written declaration of conformity in accordance with EN 45014 before the certificate is issued, assuring that their products from current production shall correspond at all times with the human ecological quality of the samples submitted, i.e. be conform, throughout the entire 12-month licence period. Prerequisite for this is the setup of a suitable company quality assurance system which has to be acknowledged by the commissioned institute.
On submission of the declaration of conformity, the applicant assumes sole responsibility for the quality of the products manufactured and/or sold. It is also possible to delegate parts of the quality assurance system to other manufacturers, suppliers and importers. In this case the measures taken to assure product quality must also be satisfactorily demonstrated to the relevant institute.
In the written declaration of conformity, the applicant also recognises that the OEKO-TEX® Association shall be entitled to carry out control tests on up to two certified products at the cost of the licence holder during the period of validity of the certificate in order to ensure compliance with the guaranteed product quality.
- Company audits
Another part of OEKO-TEX® certification in addition to the written documents and laboratory testing of the submitted test samples is a company audit at the site of the applicant where the certified items are produced.
For initial certifications the company visits are carried out by the auditors of the commissioned OEKO-TEX® member institute as close as possible to the certification process (but at the latest within the first six months after filing of the application). In general, company visits will be carried out every three years.
The aim of company visits is to ensure best possible certification conditions – for the commissioned test institute (verification of technical prerequisites) as well as for the applicant (best possible cost-benefit expense through systematic advice for selecting sample materials, product group descriptions, certificate versions, label use, QM measures etc.).