How fair and sustainable were the clothes that we find in stores produced? This is often difficult for consumers to recognize because there are many seals, but no general regulations. That should change with the new supply chain law.
If you want to know if your clothes are sustainable, you have a problem. Because sustainability is not a protected term. To really know how the garment was made and whether it protects nature and the people who make it, you have to take a closer look, says Reiner Metzger from Stiftung Warentest.
In a test, the consumer magazine checked several textile seals. One example is the so-called Global Organic Textile Standard Seal (GOTS). “You have minimum standards for working conditions and very strong environmental protection,” says Metzger. The GOTS checks exactly which cotton farm the fibers come from, in which factories they are processed and how a T-shirt is made from it. “It’s a complete chain of people who commit to these minimum standards.”
In addition, this standard also stipulates that the product ultimately consists of at least 70 percent pure natural fibers. The rules of the Organic Content Standard (OCS), for example, interpret it differently. It is true that specifications are also made here, such as how much pure natural fiber should be in clothing in the end. But the OCS standard says next to nothing about social standards. And other seals are based on other standards.
“Partly hair-raising conditions”
This is exactly where Reiner Metzger sees the difficulty: “As long as you do not have a consistently certified seal, you always have gaps, especially in the processing area – in the factories where dyeing and weaving are carried out. The conditions are sometimes hair-raising. And for so long If you don’t have any general regulations, there are always large areas in the textile industry that save a few cents on a T-shirt. “
And this is exactly where the supply chain law is supposed to tie in. In addition, more and more consumers attach importance to human rights and environmental protection. The major clothing companies have also understood this, such as the Swedish fashion company H&M, which introduced the Conscious sustainability line.
But how does such a large corporation check that the standards in the factories on site are also met? “Of course we carry out ‘audits’ in the supply chain, maybe it’s important to say again that we don’t have our own production factories. That means we have production, but we don’t have our own factories,” says Mark Jozwik, communications manager for sustainability at H&M . However, they have very clear requirements that are placed on the cooperation with the suppliers: “We have sustainability obligations that are binding for all suppliers and also non-negotiable. We set the social and ecological standards.”
Supply Chain Act provides a binding framework
According to Jozwik, these are regularly checked by employees in the production countries. The Hessian company hessnatur from Butzbach also sells clothing that is manufactured according to fair and sustainable standards. Kristin Heckmann heads the Corporate Responsibility department and explains which points in a supply chain she checks: “Our standards such as social standards include, for example, living wages, no exploitation of child labor, but of course also safe working conditions. And all these issues, both ecological and We also support the social factors during implementation and review. “
The Supply Chain Act now offers companies a binding framework. However, it is now up to them to implement these requirements.
Broadcast: hr-iNFO Aktuell, 10.6.2021, 6 to 9 p.m.