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The Green Button

The Green Button - the certification mark for socially and ecologically produced textiles

There is now a publicly endorsed certification mark: the Green Button, which will enable consumers to make conscious purchasing decisions and buy sustainable clothes. The Green Button is put on textiles such as clothing, bedding and rucksacks that have been produced in line with highly ambitious social and environmental standards. It was launched by the German Development Ministry (BMZ).

What makes this label so special is that, in order to be entitled to use the Green Button, companies have to meet both ambitious product criteria and also criteria for their business practices. These criteria are defined by the BMZ.

Product criteria

All textile products marked with the Green Button have to meet 26 minimum social and ecological standards. The social standards include, among other things, payment of minimum wages, compliance with working hours and a ban on child labour and forced labour. The ecological standards include, for instance, a ban on softening agents and other dangerous chemicals, and pollution thresholds for wastewater from production processes.

Initially, the most important production stages, i.e. cutting and sewing, and bleaching and dyeing will be audited as part of the Green Button process. The social and ecological challenges in these production stages are especially pronounced. Over the next few years, the certification mark is to be extended to cover other steps in the production process. The ultimate goal is for the Green Button to ensure the protection of people and the environment across the entire value chain – from the cotton field to the clothes hanger.

Company criteria

In addition to the individual products, the manufacturing company is audited, too. The company must prove, on the basis of 20 company criteria, that it takes proper responsibility for human rights and for social and ecological standards.

The criteria are based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the recommendations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for the textile sector.
Various aspects are examined; the questions asked include: Do seamstresses have recourse to complaints mechanisms where they work and live? Does the company address and deal with any shortcomings that are found? Does it disclose information about risks in its supply chain?

Independent audits

Independent auditing bodies monitor fulfilment of and compliance with the total of 46 different standards and criteria.

The German national accreditation body for the Federal Republic of Germany (DAkkS), as a "certifier of certifiers", oversees the work of the certifiers so as to ensure that audits are independent and credible. If the certification criteria are met, the Green Button certification mark is awarded on behalf of the BMZ.

For further information about the Green Button (in German), go to www.gruener-knopf.de.

The Green Button - the certification mark for socially and ecologically produced textiles

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