New requirements for certification in accordance with STeP by Oeko-Tex

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The new requirements for the certification of environmentally friendly and socially responsible production facilities in accordance with STeP by Oeko-Tex are applicable as of 1 April.

Sustainable Textile Production (STeP) is the new Oeko-Tex certification system for brands, retail companies and manufacturers from the textile chain. Certification is possible for production facilities of all processing stages. From July 2013 on, STeP replaced the previous certification of production sites according to Oeko-Tex Standard 1000.

Sustainable Textile Production (STeP) certification system by Oeko-Tex. © Oeko-Tex

“The interest in STeP goes well beyond the penetration we saw in what was known as the Oeko-Tex Standard 1000, which was the precursor to STeP. We expect the acceptance of STeP to rise, particularly as we include many suggestions from our customers in the new edition of the STeP standard, which will be published on 1 April 2015,” said David Pircher, a Business Development Manager, Oeko-Tex.

Waste water criteria

In the future, production sites certified in accordance with STeP must comply with new criteria relating to their waste water. The following values are applicable:

Parameter                                                                                 Limit Value

FOA                                                                        μg/l                        50

PFOS                                                                      μg/l                        10

Nonylphenol (AP)                                                μg/l                        0.1

Octylphenol (AP)                                                 μg/l                        0.3

Nonylphenolethoxylate (APEO)                       μg/l                        1

Octylphenolethoxylate (APEO)                        μg/l                        1

Ethically correct behaviour

With immediate effect, chapter 4.5.13 of the STeP standard requires all employees to comply with ethically correct behaviour.

Therefore, companies must provide their employees with a written Code of Conduct, which defines the ethical principles of the company and lists corresponding specific directives. Oeko-Tex will also establish a neutral point of contact for employee complaints from STeP certified production sites.

With regard to the purchase of feathers and down used in bedding or clothing manufacturing, STeP certified companies are required to obtain their raw materials from suppliers who can prove they do not adopt practices, such as live plucking and/or forced feeding. Oeko-Tex recommends that companies obtain proof from the suppliers by means of independent evidence, such as the Responsible Down Standard (RDS).

Social responsibility

The STeP criteria for the company area of Social Responsibility have also been modified. To exclude the worst forms of child labour, STeP certified companies must, in the future, also be able to provide evidence of compliance with ILO standard C182.

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If the employees of STeP certified companies receive additional donations from their employers, it must be clearly documented. Medical investigations required by law, for example, HIV tests, are not categorised by the STeP standard as discriminatory, but must be documented and monitored.

All forms of slavery and forced labour, such as Sumangali, which is practised in India, are categorically excluded. In addition, workers and salaried employees may use the toilets, drink water, and take a break at any time within the extent prescribed by law without fearing any disciplinary action.

Banned chemicals and processes

Banned processes that have a very negative influence on the environment and occupational health and safety will now be listed in Appendix D4 of the STeP standard – Banned Chemicals and Processes. Two new processes have also been included in the list of excluded processes. These are:

  • Sandblasting for the treatment of jeans and other articles. Excluded from the ban are closed systems, provided that the dust emissions at the workplace do not exceed the limit value specified in Appendix G07 of the STeP standard.
  • The use of thickening agents based on aromatic hydrocarbons for textile printing.

Production waste

The guidelines for production waste have been modified in the new STeP standard so that appropriate storage areas must be provided immediately to ensure that, wherever possible, pollution of the immediate environment and groundwater is excluded.

This also specifies that the storage of production waste must be protected from external weather conditions and from fire. The objective for production companies is to ensure that the storage of production waste has no effect whatsoever on the environment.

Chemicals management

In the area of Chemicals Management, the list of banned and regulated substances for the manufacture of textiles (MRSL, Manufacturing Restricted Substances List) has been updated. The detailed changes are shown in Appendix D3 of the new STeP standard.

Exclusionary criteria

Aside from the points already mentioned, the list of exclusionary criteria was also expanded to include other aspects.

This includes, for example, the specifications that each employee must receive a written employment contract, that the company ensures specific workplace conditions for young employees and that the payment of deposits for the recruitment of new employees is not permitted.

The STeP standard can now also be applied to production companies for accessory parts for textile manufacture with immediate effect.

** This post and the images are sourced through here.

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