Report on strategic cooperation

Event: stronger coordination at EU level needed

The Textile Partnership Secretariat and the secretariat of the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile (AGT) jointly organised an event entitled ‘Promoting responsible business conduct and due diligence in the EU textile and garment sector’ on 4 June in Brussels. The objective of the event was to stimulate a debate on increasing coordination of national approaches to promoting corporate due diligence in the textile sector at EU level.

Some 80 representatives of the European Parliament, the European Commission, governments of the EU member states, international companies, European business associations, non-governmental organisations and standards organisations took part in the event. After the Textile Partnership and AGT were introduced, the representatives of the European Commission (GROW Directorate General), of the European Parliament, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), C&A and IndustriALL Europe discussed the opportunities and challenges of stronger coordination at EU level.

There was consensus about the need for stronger coordination in order to achieve ongoing and systemic improvements in the production countries and prevent distortion of competition on the EU market. The participants also agreed that the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector should be the basis for coordination at EU level. However, opinions differed when it came to how this should be achieved. While some panel discussion participants called for legal regulations on corporate due diligence in the textile sector at EU level, other participants argued in favour of incrementally harmonising the approaches of existing national initiatives under the leadership of the European Commission.

To find out more about the event, please contact Andreas Edele (andreas.edele@giz.de).

Reports from initiatives and projects

Impact assessment: demonstrating progress

On 28 May 2018, the Impact Assessment expert group met for the second time to develop a results model for the Partnership. Developing this type of model will allow the members to analyse how and why certain measures and activities create an impact. The first issue to be addressed by the expert group in their analysis is living wages.

 

In a second meeting in July, the expert group plans to design a results model for the areas of chemicals/environmental management. Based on the models, the group will then develop indicators for measuring results.

 

Living wages: analysing the review data

The Partnership Secretariat will identify the most important procurement countries among the Partnership members by analysing the review data and will approach the members to inquire about their interest in a Partnership initiative.

 

The civil society representatives in the Living Wages expert group have compiled the reasons that they feel speak for engaging with the topic of living wages in Indonesia here. Companies that have a fundamental interest in engaging in Indonesia can notify the Partner Secretariat by sending an email to mail@textilbuendnis.com.

Support services

Coaching for holistic water management along the value chain

In cooperation with DGCN, we offer you coaching on holistic water management. The coaching supports companies in establishing a holistic and context-based water-management system and is geared mainly towards the textile and food sector. The focus of the coaching is on developing a holistic water strategy with water objectives and measures within the value chain. The coaching is designed for people with previous knowledge about water-risk analysis.
For more information, click here.

 

Webinars: understanding and implementing corporate due diligence

In July, the Partnership Secretariat will be offering three webinars on all aspects of Understanding and implementing due diligence. In addition to offering a general introduction to the topic, the webinars’ main focus is on binding objectives and backgrounds, as well as on guidelines for implementation.

Communicating requirements to the supply chain    Monday, 30 July 2018, 10:00 – 10:45

 

There is no need to register for the event. If you follow the link to the individual calendar dates in the Members’ Area, you can download the event and save it in your own calendar. Click the Calendar button on the upper right in the event.

At the indicated time, you can use the link in the event to join the webinar. Instructions for using the webinar tool (SABA) are also included with each event. The webinars will be recorded.

 

Webinars: cotton and new wool standards

Do you already know your way around the standards systems recognised in the Partnership? Or would you like to refresh your knowledge about them?

Our webinar series on the cotton and new wool standards recognised in the Partnership compiles the key information. After each presentation, you will have the opportunity to ask the contact partner for the standard for more in-depth information. The webinars will take place in July and will be announced on the Partnership platform closer to the dates.

We also welcome your ideas and suggestions for support services related to natural fibres. Please do not hesitate to share them with us.

Contact:
Mandy Piepke
Partnership Secretariat
mandy.piepke@giz.de

Report on the Review Process

Review Process: A learning curve is emerging

The Review Process has made definite progress. All of the data and documents submitted are now in the first or second assessment loop. By 6 June, 115 members had submitted their roadmaps and progress reports. Ten members did not submit their documents. At the next Steering Committee meeting on 11 July, a decision will be taken on the suspension of the defaulting members.

Two trends in the assessments can already be observed. The roadmaps for 2018 are significantly better than those of the previous year and the appraisers had very few objections.

In contrast, the progress reports for 2017, which had been prepared for the first time, attracted a comparatively large number of objections, frequently with respect to completeness and quality of evidence. This applies in particular to objectives that were either very vague or convoluted; in other words, with many sub-objectives. In addition, many members had to deal with ‘issues’ from the past year. For example, last year it was decided that ‘implausible’ objectives would also be accepted if it meant that the requirements for the number of objectives would be exceeded. Members are now required to provide details of these objectives in the reports, which in many cases is proving to be very difficult. Please note that this year your sustainability profile will be published again. You have until 6 July 2018 to edit these data again in the master data in TexPerT.

 

Adjusting the assessment requirements for eliminating ‘past issues’

In view of the large number of objections that were raised, the Steering Committee asked the review team to consider how the requirements for the assessment could be adjusted to somewhat alleviate the situation for the members. The goal of these considerations was explicitly not to soften or subsequently lower the requirements, but rather, based on the lessons learned from the first assessment loop, to identify where the use of the rules that were implemented for the first time this year had reached plausible limits.

No sooner said than done, with several adjustments made for the second assessment loop. Old issues from the past year can now be deleted from the 2017 roadmap retrospectively. In addition, the requirements for the appraisers to keep documentary evidence were simplified to some extent. You can find more information on this here. Please note that the requirements will initially apply for this year only as of the second assessment loop.

 

Publication of the reports

The first roadmaps will be published on the Partnership website in August. The associated data will be extracted automatically from TexPerT. Progress reports are also to be published, however, only at the request of a member. Please note that in the course of publication, each member will be assigned its own profile on the website. The data for this will also be extracted from the master data in TexPerT.

 

Arbitrator appointed

If a Textile Partnership member and the assessment are unable to reach a consensus on an assessment result in the course of the review process, the arbitration process adopted by the Steering Committee will apply. The Steering Committee has now appointed external individuals who can be entrusted with the arbitration:

  • Prof. Dr Reingard Zimmer, Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR Berlin)
  • Prof. Dr Josef Wieland, Zeppelin University
  • Herbert Ladwig, retired attorney
  • Dr Andreas Hacke, Zwanzig, Hacke, Meikle & Partner Attorneys

Alternatively, the review team can take on cases for arbitration. Detailed information on the arbitration procedure will be posted in the Members’ Area in July.

Report from the Steering Committee

Product labelling will boost demand for sustainable textiles

Dr Maria Flachsbarth has a degree in veterinary medicine. Since March 2018, she has been the Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Establishing ‘clarity about the green button’ is an important goal for Dr Maria Flachsbarth. Since March, she has been the Parliamentary State Secretary at BMZ; the Textile Partnership is one of her remits. Dr Flachsbarth travelled to Berlin to attend the 19th meeting of the Steering Committee, and one of her objectives was to deliver a statement about the planned government meta-label. By creating the green button, the Ministry intends to create a recognisable and clearly identifiable label for consumers and consequently boost the demand for sustainably produced textiles, she said. In turn, suppliers who fail to provide evidence of sustainable business practice will be put under pressure to change. ‘The green button is coming’, Minister Müller concurred at the Steering Committee meeting, ‘and I expressly invite you to play an active part in fleshing it out’.

In order for a product to get a green button, reliable seals must be used to prove that the German Government’s minimum requirements are met in both environmental and social terms. The basis for this assessment is the ‘seal clarity’ portal, Dr Flachsbarth explained. ‘Our actual goal is fully sustainable textiles – from cotton field to coat hanger. But we are also well aware that this expectation cannot be met at the moment’. That’s why in the first phase, the focus is only on textile production, and more specifically, on garment assembly. The requirements for obtaining the green button will gradually increase and step by step, will include additional levels of the supply chain.

 

Additional requirements: Proof of companies’ due diligence

In addition to the requirements specified for the products themselves, the Ministry is calling for companies to provide evidence that they comply with corporate due diligence. Textile Partnership members have an advantage in this respect, because by fulfilling the requirements of the Review Process, they meet this prerequisite for access. In addition, plans call for other verification options to be available.

The differing approaches of the Textile Partnership and the green button were also discussed. Dr Flachsbarth clearly stated that these are two complementary approaches without any binding connection. While the Textile Partnership works systemically to implement corporate due diligence, the green button is a meta-seal on the product whose purpose is to provide guidance for consumers when shopping.

The Steering Committee highlighted this difference by adopting the wording for communicating about the relationship between the green button and the Textile Partnership: ‘Despite the identical objective of achieving social, ecological and economic improvements along the entire textile supply chain, there is no direct connection between the Textile Partnership and the proposed green button. This is due primarily to the different frameworks and systemic approaches of the two initiatives’.

 

Welcome to the Partnership

 

We would like to welcome the Berlin-based children’s clothing manufacturer CharLe as a new member of the Textile Partnership. The company is run by a small team of family members, young fashion designers and close partners committed to producing timeless children’s fashion using natural textiles. CharLe works only with environmentally sound and fairly produced natural fibres that comply with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

Associate membership

As part of our strategic cooperation with AGT, we have agreed an option for mutual associate membership. Members of the Textiles Partnership will in future be able to apply via the Partnership Secretariat for associate membership of AGT and vice versa. The two initiatives pursue a common goal and, by joining forces, can make a key contribution to creating a level playing field in the European textile sector.

Associate membership gives you access to the information, guidance and mechanisms of both initiatives. We have prepared a brief FAQ list to provide you with the key information on associate membership. The application forms are available here.

If you are interested in associate membership, please contact mitglieder@textilbuendnis.com.

 

The comparison of standards has arrived!

A comparison of the requirements of different standards systems and member initiatives with the Partnership’s grid of questions has recently been added to TexPerT to assist you with entering your baseline data. If your business activities are geared to a standard or initiative, then you should activate the comparison of standards in TexPerT. Relevant information will then appear automatically in the baseline.

 

The standards and member initiatives for which the data is stored in TexPerT are listed here.

We have also put together a short video (approx. 15 min.) in which we explain again in detail the background to the comparison of standards and how it works (including a demo in TexPerT). You can access the video here.

A general information paper, available here, provides an overview of where standards and member initiatives can be listed as part of the reporting process.

 

 

New structures, new rules

Following the Steering Committee’s decision to make the Textiles Partnership’s structures more project-oriented, it became necessary to adapt the Cooperation Rules. Consequently, the Steering Committee agreed on an adaptation, for which a decision was made after their last meeting.

 

What has changed?

  • The new Paragraph 11 summarises the new structures resulting from the Steering Committee decision of 25 January 2018. The paragraphs on the working groups have been removed.
  • The tasks of the Steering Committee (Paragraph 6), the Members’ Meeting (Paragraph 9) and the Partnership Secretariat (Paragraph 10) have been clarified and adapted to the new structures.
  • New associate member status (Paragraph 2 (3)): The introduction of associate membership has been agreed as part of the agreement on strategic cooperation with the Dutch AGT. You can find more information here.
  • The rights resulting from being a member of the Partnership have been elaborated more clearly and adapted to the current decisions (in particular Paragraph 3 (1)). The existing obligations and sanction levels of the review process have also been amended in the Cooperation Rules (Paragraph 3 (3) and Paragraph 4 (2)).
  • Paragraph 12 on the Partnership logo has also been adapted to the current decisions.
  • Additionally, a number of smaller adjustments have been made, such as the inclusion of the co-option of new members to the Steering Committee and the inclusion of online tools as an instrument for information provision or decision-making. As a result, the rules now reflect the established practice of the Partnership.

 

We have also made further changes in the Members´ Area to reflect the adjustments. To this end, we have already set up a ‘Projects’ section with the first closed groups. Like with the earlier working groups, as a Partnership member you will find the relevant work results of the project activities in topic-specific folders in the data storage area of the ‘Latest news about the Partnership’s work’, ‘Review process’ and ‘Tools and guidance’ folders. Previous working group folders are archived.

 

Recording an inventory of chemicals

Keeping an inventory of the chemicals used and stored in factories is necessary in order to keep track of what chemicals with human- and ecotoxicological characteristics are used, be able to conduct risk assessments, prevent unnecessary keeping of stocks, and to provide employees and, where relevant, operatives with information about the chemical hazards. For effective chemical management, it is necessary to clearly identify what chemicals are used, how they should be used, and what substitutes can be used in their place. This requires that established inventories are continuously updated and archived.

Under this link, you find the inventory of chemicals template coordinated by ZDHC and other members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles. The following overview shows a systematic approach that works with inventories:

 

 

List of abbreviations used in the template

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Explanations of the abbreviations:

The diverse classifications of the previous mentioned factors are listed in abbreviations. For example, the abbreviation CO (100%) means that the textile substrate is 100% made out of cotton.

Moreover, an additional category for finished textiles is listed as the type of finished products provides helpful suggestions and should be recorded, too.

Explanation of the abbreviations:

CO (100%) – Textile substrate which is 100% made out of cotton.

PES = polyester

PAN = polyacrylnitrile

PUR = Polyurethane (=Lycra)

PA = polyamide

CV = viscose

SI = silk

LN = linen

WO = wool

For the processsequenz the following abbreviations are used:

H2O2 = hydrogen peroxide

NaCIO = sodium hypochlorite

ZDHC MRSL = Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) of the initiative Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC). Hazardous substrates with a lack of substitutions are listed in the „ZDHC Research List“. Pointed Lines are optional to add additional processes.

Used abbreviations for Wastewater:

DD = Direct Discharger (a factory discharges its wastewater after wastewater treatment into the public water)

ID = Indirect discharger (a factory discharges its wastewater into a regional or central wastewater industry which then discharges the wastewater into the public water)

WWTP = wastewater treatment plant

O3 = ozone (normally for bleaching)

NaCIO = sodium hypochlorite (normally used for bleaching which is not recommended because of toxic side products)

UF = Wastewater Cooling Membrane (a membrane process)

RO = reverse osmosis (activat. sludge membrane)

COD = Chemical Oxygen Demand (Accumulated parameters, especially for the wastewater pollution with organic substrates)

BOD5 = Biochemical Oxygen Demand (Demand of Oxygen for bio-degraduable, organic substrates)

Total N = total amount of nitrogen (sum of all mineral and organic nitrogen compounds)

Total P = total amount of phosphor (sum of all mineral and organic phosphor compounds)

Total Cr = total amount of chrome

Total Cu = total amount of cupper

TSS = Total suspended solids

The sludge generation in the WWTP includes the precipitated sludge (if a precipitation stage exist) and the sludge (biomass) which is generated by the biological wastewater treatment. This is primarily biomass with attached non biodegradable, less water soluble substrates. The dry matter content includes the residue of sludge after completed dehydration (identified by laboratory).