GECA's new textile standard aims to improve environmental and social outcomes.

Good Environmental Choice Australia has released a new standard to address the environmental, health and social issues associated with textiles, including clothing and soft furnishings.

GECA chief executive Rupert Posner said there had been a number of concerns recently regarding textiles, including the use of carcinogenic dyes and labour practices in developing countries.

“This new standard enables manufacturers to provide confidence to their customers that these issues have been addressed and that their products are environmentally and socially preferable,” Mr Posner said.

The standard considers impacts over the lifecycle of textiles, including material sourcing, manufacture, packaging and use. Issues addressed include:

  • Pesticide use – Pesticide run-off can contaminate local water supplies and cause harm to workers and animals. GECA’s standard places strict limits on the pesticide residues in raw materials.
  • Dyes – certain dyes and dye by-products have been classified as skin sensitisers, carcinogenic, mutagenic and reproductive toxins. GECA’s standard places limits, restrictions and bans on certain dyes or dye by-products.
  • Illegal harvest of wood for manmade cellulose fibres – illegal harvesting, genetically modified organisms and cases of unsustainable management can threaten ecosystem health and local communities. GECA’s standard requires that raw materials from wood and fibre must not come from uncertified sources, illegal harvesting, GMOs, or environmentally destructive practices.
  • Hazardous materials – formaldehyde and heavy metals can be present in clothes, depending on how the garments are manufactured and treated. GECA’s standard restricts the use of heavy metals (such as lead, cadmium, arsenic) and other hazardous materials (such as formaldehyde, biocides, and APEOs). It also bans known carcinogenic substances.
  • Workers’ rights – Along with fair pay, safe working conditions and equal opportunity requirements, GECA’s standard requires licensees to show awareness and/or compliance with International Labour Organisation Conventions regarding forced labour and worker exploitation.

The standard was developed incorporating feedback from industry, stakeholders and the general public, and replaces GECA’s previous textiles standard.