Brands are moving away from animal-base to plant-base clothing

With its strong presence in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Myanmar and other sourcing countries, Bangladesh-headquartered Global Sustainable Certification Services Ltd. (GSCS), helps garment and textile businesses build a strong and responsive socio-environment impact programme. By auditing their production facilities, production processes, and inspecting fine products during production and before shipment, they help clients take corrective action, where required.  Abdul Mottaleb, managing director of GSCS, who has vast experience of SA8000, BSCI, ETI, ISO Management system and other Code of Conducts standards in use in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, spoke to Fashion Business Chronical on the need for compliance for one of the most polluting industries (Textiles) in the world.

Blurb: Till such a time that we have a global, uniform sustainability system in place, responsible textile manufacturers should only follow their brand’s / country’s/ customer’s requirements.

By a  FBC Correspondent

Q. Tell us about GSCS? How and when did it get established? Who are your big clients?
GSCS is a leading provider of assessment, audit, inspection, certification, sustainability assessment and training services for the textile value chain. Registered in Bangladesh on 2011, under Joint Stock of Bangladesh, GSCS has a franchise contract with the Global Group of Companies Ltd., UK and CERES GmbH in Germany for issuing GOTS or OCS certification. Some of our top clients include the DBL Group, Noman Group, ACS Group, Mondol Group etc.

Q. Define ‘Sustainability’ in terms of the textile industry?
Simply put, sustainability means freeing the industry from any harmful substance at the various manufacturing stages. Sustainability is a combination of environmental, economic, and social responsibility. In textiles, sustainability starts at the farming stage to final consumption, and also recycling of that product, where possible. It stems from using natural or recycled fibres, reducing the use of pesticides, raising animals in a humane way, utilizing low-impact dyes, encouraging fair treatment of textile laborers, and dozens of other responsible manufacturing practices.

Q. Isn’t there a glut of audit companies and ‘sustainability standards’ in the world already – GOTS, Cradle to Cradle, FSC certified for responsibly sourced paper, TGPI (The Green People of India) standard – which standard should a textile manufacturer opt for? And what should he look for in his certifying agency?
Actually, the audit companies are not the owner of any standard. The audit companies are the service provider for standards approved through a strict accreditation procedure for proper implementation of the Standards requirements. Most of these are not-for-profit organizations, whose main aim is to make the industry more accountable for its manufacturing activities. Of course, there are small variations between different standards. Unfortunately, till date, there is no unified standard covering of all aspects of responsible manufacturing. Till such a time that we have a global, uniform sustainability system in place, responsible textile manufacturers should only follow their brand’s / country’s/ customer’s requirements.

Q. How is GSCS different from the other certifying agencies?
GSCS believes in the quality of service rather than the quantity. Our aim to add value to the client rather than just policing his processes. GSCS has a competent and professional staff with deep sectoral expertise and our certification scheme comes for a very competitive pricing. We regularly organize free-to-attend seminar to make our clients aware of the standard requirements which is not done by other CBs. The cost of our service depends on the duration of engagement, how big is the client, how complex are their processes, among other parameters.

Q. Honestly, does such certifications have any direct impact on the company’s sales? Can you cite a couple of cases from your client list?
Of course, it has a direct impact on sales and prices. This is one reason why the number of certifying agencies globally is increasing. As per GOTS annual report, GOTS shows an increase of 8,2%, from 4,642 facilities in 2016 to 5,024 facilities in 2017, who are opting for GOTS certificate. The uptake is highest in Bangladesh (+40%), North America (+39%), Portugal (+39%) and Europe (+29%). If clients are not getting any benefit, why would this number be on the upswing?

Q. Does the size of a company have anything to do with sustainability awareness?
Compared to other standards, such as ISO or Social Management System, Sustainability Standards are pretty new. I don’t think size has anything to do with awareness. From the company’s perspective, the “auditor should be neutral, and bias-free.” for implication of standard.

Q. Lastly, in terms of sustainability what does the future hold? Do you see a trend where fashion will move from animal to plant-based clothing, i.e. Bio Couture?
Yes, I agree that brands are moving from animal to plant-based clothing.

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