How OEKO-TEX® is Creating a More Sustainable Future for Textiles

Sustainability has been at the core of OEKO-TEX®’s identity for almost three decades. We are pleased to see more people and businesses are thinking about how their actions effect the environment. Collectively and individually, we are all responsible for the health of this Earth. As we all strive toward creating a greener tomorrow, the OEKO-TEX® mission remains steadfast: making the textile and leather industry more sustainable, trustworthy and safe.

At OEKO-TEX®, we work toward a healthier future by enabling consumers and companies to make responsible decisions that protect our planet. We know that consumers want to make the right choices, but it can be overwhelming and time consuming to verify which brands are truly committed versus which products are merely “greenwashed.” OEKO-TEX® third-party product labels are a powerful tool to help consumers live closer to their values and confidently select clothing, footwear and home goods that are safer for wearers, textile workers and the Earth.

The growing demand for sustainable textiles and leather is clear – MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® licenses increased by 115% in the last 12 months. Over 16,000 manufacturers, brands and retailers formally work with OEKO-TEX® in almost 100 countries. Even during a pandemic, the total number of labels and certificates issued increased by nearly 3,000 to 24,200.

We are deeply committed to driving further innovation and making greater contributions toward a more informed and environmentally friendly society. OEKO-TEX®  is aligned with several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), which are built into our services.

  • The fair wages, working hours and equal treatment of workers without discrimination (#10) and gender equality (#5) are basic requirements for OEKO-TEX® certifications
  • Through traceability and supply chain transparency, MADE IN GREEN labels guide consumers to responsible consumption (#12) and help manufacturers implement and improve environmentally friendly production
  • STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification helps manufacturers take climate action (#13) to reduce their carbon footprint and verifies employers are protecting the good health and well-being (#3) of workers.
  • DETOX TO ZERO helps monitor and improve of chemical and wastewater management to ensure clean water and sanitation (#6)
  • We continuously develop partnership with brands, manufacturers and stakeholders to achieve these goals (#17) and continuously improve our processes.

OEKO-TEX® supports the industry on its path to transforming the world through actions.

Looking ahead, a circular economy, which aims to design out waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use and regenerate natural systems, is necessary for the industry to exist within our planetary boundaries. Lifecycle assessments (LCAs) are imperative to creating a circular economy, and OEKO-TEX® has recently begun a lifecycle assessment pilot project to identify opportunities to improve the environmental performance of products at various points in their lifecycle. The lifecycle assessment looks at how a garment impacts the planet during the following stages:

  • Raw material extraction (i.e. cotton cultivation & cotton fiber production)
  • Raw material processing (i.e. cotton spinning)
  • Fabric manufacturing (i.e. circular knitting and electricity consumption)
  • Bleaching, dyeing and finishing
  • Assembly
  • Use phase
  • Disposal
  • Transport (throughout the supply and consumption chain)

The initial pilot has proven that all actors play a critical role in making a product more environmentally friendly – from textile producers to brands and retailers to consumers.

While OEKO-TEX® has dedicated almost 30 years to making the textile industry safer for human and planetary health, we know there is still much work to be done. We are motivated by the progress we see and are continuously looking for ways that we can become better partners in preserving the planet.