Textile

How can textiles be “organic”?  What does “organic” mean with regards to textiles? How can the consumer determine organic garments are genuinely “organic”?
Organic textiles can be made from cotton, wool and even bamboo or hemp. In order to achieve organic certification, the fibre must be of certified organic origin. Simply put, a cotton or bamboo operation has to have been managed in accordance with the organic standards (no prohibited chemicals used) for more than 3 years. Wool must come from certified organic sheep (no prohibited chemicals used on the land for more than 3 years and the animal also raised in accordance with the standards).
Spinning, yarning, dyeing and garmenting are also required to be certified organic if the final product (e.g. t-shirt, socks etc) is to wear a “certified organic” label. Apart from the issue of needing a certified organic factory in order to maintain the certified status, generally, the most challenging part to gaining certification is the dyeing process. What would you, as a consumer, expect with regards to dye materials used in organic textiles? Plantderived natural dyes? A dye that is made from 100% plants, in fact, may not be realistic. 100% plant-extracted handcrafted dye colours could be used locally in small quantities, but such products may not be sold at a highly commercial level because of issues with obtaining the quantity required and also quality (not always being stable). Dyes are assessed on a case by case basis to ensure that the dye is not toxic to the environment or to humans (i.e. not a known allergy source etc).
If the garments are imported from overseas and already carry a widely known organic certification in another country, ACO assesses the international organic requirements and confirms whether it is up to standard with our own.
ACO offers textile certification under the Australian Certified Organic Standard

Australian Certified Organic Standard

Textile processing requirements are listed at section 6.7 of the ACO Standard, and includes specific requirements for wool and cotton products.
If the garments are imported from overseas and already carry a widely known organic certification in another country, ACO assesses the international organic requirements and confirms whether it is up to standard with our own.
You may not have seen “certified organic” garments very often, but have seen many garments claiming, to be “made with organic cotton/wool”. This is because, as mentioned earlier, achieving organic certification for garments can be challenging and sometimes become a time consuming and costly process. How do you know if products that claim, “made with organic cotton/wool”, really source “certified organic” cotton or wool? That is why ACO established a verification program called “made with certified organic fibre”. This is a verification program whereby ACO can confirm the claim “made with…” is genuine by reviewing the stage processes of the production flow chart and traceability documents.
ACO believes this verification program could also help some operators as the first step to producing fully “certified organic” garments in the future. The verification program guarantees the products’ traceability system and confirms the products’ claim (“made with organic cotton/wool”) is genuine.