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Global organic textile market set to grow at 40%

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The half-a-billion USD global organic textile market is set to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 40% within the next five years and with eco-consumption on the rise. It is evident that apparel companies too, are gearing for the shift in consumer patterns.

Sri Lanka, known for its ability to produce high-end niche apparel, is now focused on enhancing its capacity to produce eco-friendly clothing using organic textiles, where compliance remains a key component. The Joint Apparel Association (JAAF) notes an increase in Sri Lankan companies obtaining the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), indicating an increased awareness within the industry of the importance of adopting international best practices and sustainable manufacturing. South Asian Representative of GOTS Ganesh Kasekar reveals a 78% increase in certified facilities compared to 2022 in Sri Lanka, with 136 factories currently holding certification.

“The demand for organic products is strong in the US and EU markets, driven by environmentally-conscious Gen Next consumers.”

Amongst these Sri Lankan companies, local apparel giants including Hirdaramani International Exports, MAS Intimates and Brandix have also obtained GOTS certification for the sustainable production of children’s wear, ladies’ wear, men’s wear, and baby wear. GOTS is recognized as the world’s leading processing standard for textiles manufactured using organic fibres.

The successful completion of GOTS certification by an approved certifier provides companies with the right to participate in the GOTS programme, including using the standard and the GOTS logo on GOTS-approved goods. With the standard being renewed annually, GOTS 7.0 was launched in March 2023, with full implementation required for all certified entities by March 2024.

“Built on the three pillars of social responsibility, environmental sustainability and ethical business practices, GOTS covers the production process end to end. “Simply claiming to be sustainable is not enough,” asserts Kasekar.

“GOTS has developed standards that cover the entire production process, based on the use of organic fibres, from textile processing and manufacturing up to licensing and labelling.”

The certification demonstrates a company’s commitment to providing sustainable, ethical and high-quality products to stakeholders, partners and consumers. Therefore to earn a GOTS certification, textile products must contain a minimum of 70% organic fibers, reflecting a commitment to environmentally friendly materials. Additionally, stringent criteria govern the use of chemical inputs – ensuring that dyestuffs and auxiliaries meet strict environmental and toxicological standards.

Notably, a functional waste water treatment plant is mandatory for any wet-processing unit, underscoring the importance of responsible water management.

“Because of the substantial impact of the textile industry, proper environmental stewardship is imperative. Emphasis on wastewater management and energy conservation is not new. Among the many inputs used in processing, GOTS only allows those with minimum or no ecological impact.”

Worker welfare has been a core priority of all GOTS-certified Sri Lankan companies, with a commitment to preventing and opposing any form of human rights abuse within the supply chain.These companies uphold strict policies against forced and child labour and measures to combat discrimination, harassment and violence. GOTS places special emphasis on safeguarding the rights of female workers, supporting collective bargaining and ensuring occupational health and safety standards.

“Sustainability is no longer just a trendy buzzword,” emphasises Kasekar “Certified organic products offer a practical solution for retailers and consumers to make legitimate and verifiable sustainability claims for textile products.”

Stating that the textile industry holds promise in addressing economic challenges in Sri Lanka, he pointed out that it is crucial for local industries to align with sustainability standards, encompassing environmental, social and governance criteria. It is evident that compliance certifications play a pivotal role in seamlessly integrating with global supply chains and international trade by adhering to globally accepted trading standards, and ideally emphasized at a time when Sri Lanka seeks export expansion, investor attraction and improved foreign exchange inflow. As Sri Lanka Apparel looks to the future, it fully acknowledges the myriad advantages offered by the GOTS certification. With a steadfast commitment to upholding GOTS standards in sustainable textile production and trade, the industry is poised to not only thrive but also serve as a beacon of responsible and ethical manufacturing, contributing positively to the global sustainability agenda.

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