Traceability 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, 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). 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. They are not part of the certification institution but are trained to audit according to their standards.

When a company passes their audit they can make claims about certified products. When you buy a product with a certification claim, it means that all companies in that supply chain have been audited and are certified for that product / its materials.

tmIn short, what do the certifications mean?

FSC By choosing products with the FSC label, consumers can be sure that the items they are purchasing have not been manufactured at the expense of the forest, or the animals, plants, and people who rely on it.
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.


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 an innovative solution complementing certification schemes.

We insert the tracer into third-party certified 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.

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:


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 certificate code: NC-COC-070443


You think you know everything about the traceability of our product materials? Test your knowledge!