Why we should value certifications in textiles
This article was made in collaboration with Silvia Boneschi, Regulatory Specialist at Garmon.
There is a need for an independent third party to assess the conditions of certain processes and products based on appropriate, standardized and well-defined parameters.
Certification is a powerful and reliable assessment, which makes the whole industry wonder who would be the most suitable entity to validate processes and chemicals? And yet, who could look at different processes and products both neutrally and critically? Who is responsible for defining the parameters and limits involved in this evaluation?
First, it is important to have a clear definition of certification. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, certification can be defined as:
“The process of giving official or legal approval to a person, company, product, etc.
that has reached a particular standard.”
To discuss certifications and all the complexity involved in this long, bureaucratic, and expensive process, Silvia Boneschi, Regulatory Specialist at Garmon, was invited to answer some questions, from the basics to the most complex in the world of certifications.
In the textile chemical industry there are several standards that allow a company to obtain a certification. Many of these standards have been developed by international organizations. The most recognized and accepted standard in the textile industry is the Manufacturing Restricted Susbstances List (MRSL), which was stablished by the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) Foundation. The MRSL states the maximum allowable content of hazardous substances in a given chemical product.
The MRSL is used by several certification bodies. The certification bodies are entities that issue certificates proving the chemicals’ compliance with the ZDHC MRSL. The certified products can be added in the ZDHC Gateway, a database that lists all the products that conforms to the ZDHC MRSL.
Only with a certificate issued by a third party, according to a specific certification standard, is possible to demonstrate the level of sustainability of a product in terms of respect for the environment, safety of employees and final consumers.
greenofchange™ is Garmon's platform that combines certified chemicals with sustainable processes
Certifications are important because only throughout this process, carried out by a specific appointed certifying body, is possible to assess the hazards of a chemical product in an objective way.
“Certification is not a self-declaration of compliance with a specific MRSL or RSL, but involves a third party responsible for the assessment.”
With the approval from a third party, we can be sure that a certified product does not pose a relevant risk to the environment and health. Some certification bodies, before issuing product certification, audit the manufacturing facility to verify that the company's quality, environmental and safety assurance management systems are traceable and comply with their own guidelines based on recognized international standards like ISO.
Although these two parameters are different, they are very much linked to each other. Today, the market is asking for products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Therefore, the market direction demands certifications that allow companies to prove their commitment to sustainability.
On the other hand, traceability is a crucial topic and connected with sustainability. It can serve as a tool that proves that manufacturers are using only sustainable products within their entire production chain. In this way, traceability can also be used by brands to understand if the sustainable products chosen in a manufacturing recipe are effectively used throughout the chain, preventing the products from being replaced by cheaper, non-certified and non-sustainable items.
There isn’t only one process of certification. The processes are different depending on the adopted standard of certification. For example, to receive a product certification, companies can be required to share the full disclosure of the product formulation, and in certain cases should provide additional chemical analysis.
Garmon started the certification path with the Green Screen standard of certification years ago, always as a pioneer in the chemical textile industry. Later, to consolidate sustainability efforts and demonstrate this to the market, in 2020 Garmon became a Bluesign® System partner. With Bluesign certification, Garmon certified products have achieved level 3 in the ZDHC Gateway, which is the highest level that can be reached by a chemical product. This is the strongest proof of our commitment to sustainability and safety worldwide. Moreover, Bluesign certification covers not only the assessment of chemical products, but also assesses and accredits the company's quality, safety and environmental management systems.
Silvia currently works with quality and regulatory affairs at Kemin Industries San Marino, focused on certifications for all the products marketed under the Garmon brand.
Silvia has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Chemistry and has been working in this field for almost 10 years at Garmon Kemin Group.