Traceability & certification learning portal
The claims made by certified organizations like XD Connects about certified products represent the values of many conscious buyers. These claims – often logos of the independent standard setter, like FSC® – are also a fast-track to positive change. We can trust these claims to guide our purchasing behaviour towards products with third-party verified ESG claims. This learning module dives deeper into the certifications currently held by XD Connects – GRS, RCS, OEKO-TEX®, and FSC – and the AWARE™ tracer.
Where did the need to certify come from?
Unfortunately, uncertified, non-organic, or unrecycled (‘virgin’) materials have been known to be sold as their sustainable alternatives. This is fraud. Motivation is often price (virgin materials are sometimes cheaper than recycled) and access (e.g. not enough recycled material (easily) available).
So, what’s the big deal?
When buyers demand more responsibly sourced materials or responsibly produced products, they do so because of its added value to people, planet, and profit. Using unsustainable materials instead means losing the positive impact on the planet and (usually) people – workers in the supply chain, local communities, consumers.
This type of fraud is not easily identified by end-users: can you feel the difference between your organic cotton and virgin cotton t-shirts? Or whether your bottle is made from 55% or 30% recycled plastic? Not to mention whether harmful chemicals were used to make your sweater. Certification schemes provide this information to the end user.
How does certification work?
The foundation of certification are the standards defined by independent institutions (e.g. Fairtrade International, Textile Exchange, Forest Stewardship Council®, OEKO-TEX®). They set the requirements that have to be met in order for businesses to use certification logos on their products/materials.
In general, these requirements cover key questions like:
- Where are the raw materials sourced from? (conflict areas, protected forests, animal cruelty, etc.)
- Are there checks in place to verify the products are not tampered with? (i.e. replaced with cheaper, less sustainable alternatives; is the entire supply chain certified)
- What are the production conditions? (chemicals used; waste management; human rights)
Auditing firms visit companies – like XD Connects and our suppliers – to test their compliance to the requirements, or their products are tested by accredited institutions. They are not part of the standard-setting institution but are trained to audit according to their standards.
When a company passes their audit or test they can make claims about the certified products. When you buy a product with a certification claim, it means that all companies in the supply chain of that product have been audited and are certified for that product / its materials.
suchIn short, what do the certifications mean?
|FSC||The Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) is a global, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of responsible forest management worldwide. FSC defines standards based on agreed principles for responsible forest stewardship that are supported by environmental, social, and economic stakeholders. To learn more, visit www.fsc.org|
|GRS & RCS||GRS and RCS both aim to increase the use of recycled materials in products. The GRS has two additional objectives, namely (1) improve social and environmental conditions in production and (2) achieve a higher percentage of recycled content in products.|
|OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100||If a textile article carries the STANDARD 100 label, you can be certain that every component of this article (every thread and accessory) has been tested for harmful substances and that the article therefore is harmless for human health.|
The innovation of AWARE ™
Innovation is a big part of our ESG ambitions, lowering the negative impact of our products as much as possible. The AWARE™ tracer is such an innovative solution.
We insert the tracer into recycled material at the very start of a product’s supply chain. By scanning the final product for the tracer particles, we can confirm the presence of the verified recycled material used at the start of the supply chain.
Furthermore, the AWARE™ tracer utilizes blockchain technology to deliver transparency to the end user of a product. QR codes are linked to each product leading to its Digital Product Passport.
View this video for more details on the process involved.
The XD Connects approach
Changing the way we give is part of our belief that responsible business practice is the way forward.
Certifying the products we label as lower-impact is an important part of delivering positive change. Why? Without independent verification that the products we market as being, for example, recycled, organic, or ethically sourced are in actual fact what we say they are, we put ourselves at risk of greenwashing. That would be unacceptable.
XD Connects’ commitment to certification shows that we:
- value independent, expert opinion above our own;
- communicate transparently to customers;
- actively combat greenwashing;
- accept the responsibilities and requirements that come with external auditing; and
- recognise that positive impact claims are about improving conditions in the supply chain (people & planet) and not just about commercial value for us.
Our approach is ideal for our customers. They can confidently market our products without risk of greenwashing as they know we have the documentation to back up our claims.
Alternatives to certification that we see in the market is the grouping of products into generic categories like ‘eco’ or ‘green’ by sellers. Certification is more transparent, avoids confusion, and lets the customer make decisions based on their own ESG priorities, rather than us deciding it for them.
What do I need to know about selling certified products?
When selling certified products, please take note of the following:
GRS and RCS
Any claims made by XD Connect customers about GRS- or RCS-certified products purchased from us should be in line with the Textile Exchange Standards Claims Policy.
GRS and RCS licence code: CU 1162221
Any organisation selling FSC®-certified products and claiming them as such must register for a Trademark Licence with FSC. Find your local FSC team to see what this means for you.
FSC licence code: FSC-181720
OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100
As a general rule, certified products will be physically labelled with the complete OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 label which holds the necessary information for end users. As a buyer of a certified products you are free to sell these and claim them as certified if you do not alter the items further – no certification or registration is necessary for you.
The XD Connects certified products (iqoniq range and certain Ukiyo items) have an exemption to the rule that every item needs to have a physical label. This is because we primarily sell products to be decorated and cannot guarantee the item will be decorated with an OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certified method IF customers choose to decorate elsewhere (not with XD Connects). Not including a label in our products prevents a situation where a product is decorated with an uncertified technique yet is labelled as certified – potentially resulting in a product that has harmful chemicals.
What does this mean for you as a buyer?
If you decorate with XD Connects or you do not decorate the item, make sure you include our certification reference (shown by the products). For iqoniq this is: OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100. 2303045 Centexbel.
If you decorate somewhere other than with XD Connects, you need to specify that the reference refers only to undecorated products.
You think you know everything about the traceability of our product materials? Test your knowledge!