Labelling and Greenwashing

Labelling textile and leather products increase transparency and consumer empowerment. But it can also be a source of - intentional or unintentional - greenwashing.  

There’s a strong temptation to highlight "sustainable" components of a product or component certifications. This is called ingredient labelling. It can be misleading to consumers as it provides vague and incomplete information. 

This is why ingredient labelling and advertising are not allowed for OEKO-TEX® certifications and labels (e.g. STANDARD 100, ORGANIC COTTON, LEATHER STANDARD and MADE IN GREEN). As a prerequisite for using or communicating about OEKO-TEX® certification to consumers, the entire product, including each of its components, must be certified. For example: 

  • If a T-shirt is labelled or referred to as OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certified, the entire t-shirt must be certified. Not just the fabric, but also the sewing threads, buttons and all other components must be tested.  

  • If shoes are being advertised as OEKO-TEX® LEATHER STANDARD certified, the full shoe must be certified - not just the leather, but also the sole, inner lining, laces etc. 

Mentions of any OEKO-TEX® certificate or label must include the corresponding number and institute. This is important for checking validity and for transparency. 

It is essential to make accurate statements to consumers and business partners. Ingredient labelling can make a product seem more safe, sustainable, etc. than it actually is.  

Using misleading or incomplete product information and consumer protection is also illegal. The European Commission’s UCPD (Unfair Commercial Practices Directive), introduced in 2005, legally prohibits traders from presenting claims – like product certification and environmental impact - in ways that are unfair to consumers.  

To ensure clarity, credibility and consistency and avoid ingredient labelling, we provide the OEKO-TEX® Labelling Guide. This document defines rules and guidelines for standardised appearance of the OEKO-TEX® labels. OEKO-TEX® stands for consumer protection, traceability and transparency. Labelling Guide assists manufacturers, brands, retailers and partners in correctly labelling their certified products and communicating company efforts.