Organic body outlines new US textile ruling

13 June 2011

The Organic Trade Association has clarified how a new US policy memo which allows organic textiles to be sold in the USA in a similar way to organic food, is also in addition to existing FTC requirements.

The news comes after an important update we reported earlier which covered a new Policy Memorandum from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (USDA’s NOP) and confirms that in which it explicitly confirms that textile products that are produced in accordance with the GOTS standard may be sold as organic in the US and that all fibres identified as “organic” contained in the textile product must be certified organic to the NOP regulations.

Additional correspondence between the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and NOP has now clarified that ‘made with organic (specified ingredient)’ is a codified labelling category under the NOP as well as a labelling category under GOTS. Accordingly, textile manufactures choosing to make a fibre content claim in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) labelling requirements should use terminology such as ‘contains 80% organic cotton.’ The NOP labeling requirements are in addition to those required by the FTC. This policy memo also explicitly confirms that textiles produced to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) criteria may be sold as ‘organic’ in the USA, though they may not refer to NOP certification or carry the USDA organic seal.

The NOP Policy Memo also clarifies that while the NOP regulations do not include specific processing or manufacturing standards for textile products, a product can be labeled as “organic” and make reference to NOP certification if it is produced in full compliance with both the NOP production standards (crops and livestock for raw materials) and the NOP handling standards (processing for the finished product). This includes all processing
methods allowed under 7 CFR 205.270 and all ingredients and inputs allowed under 205.605 and 205.606 of the National List. However, as most of these methods and ingredients are not applicable to textile processing, NOP labeling is likely unachievable for most garments and textile products that use a variety of dyestuffs and auxiliary agents.

This ruling now supersedes the July 2008 NOP fact sheet entitled “Labeling of Textiles under National Organic Program (NOP) Regulations.“We are excited USDA is recognising the rapidly growing organic fibre sector in general and GOTS in particular, thus enabling organic textile manufacturers to make production and processing claims just as manufacturers of organic food and beverages can,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director.

Francis Blake, Soil Association Policy Advisor says of the development "The Soil Association is a founder member (and part owner) of the Global Organic Textile Standards as we recognised that the international nature of both the industry and the market needed a single international standard to ensure consistency and integrity throughout the whole chain. It has been a resounding success and we are delighted with this recognition by the NOP - yet further confirmation of its status as the organic textile processing standard worldwide. We are working hard to achieve a similar outcome in the UK, so we can banish unsubstantiated claims from organic textile products here too."

For more information, visit our Textile pages.

Source: Ecotextile News

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