Fairtrade International — a coalition of 28 organizations working to make trade fairer throughout the world — is welcoming comments from throughout the garment and textile supply chains on the new Fairtrade Textile Standard, now under development.
Fairtrade International says it has run mock audits with textile producers in India and South Africa during the last year, to test out a Fairtrade standard for the whole textile supply chain. A draft version of this standard, which includes requirements relating to unionization and freedom of association, workers’ health and safety, and environmental regulations, is now under public consultation until May 8. Independent certification body FLOCERT will reportedly monitor the standard.
Fairtrade says all comments (which can be submitted here) will be collected and considered in further stages of development.
The global Fairtrade system — comprised of three producer networks, 25 Fairtrade organizations, Fairtrade International and FLOCERT works to ensure fair wages and living conditions for artisans and small producers of food and goods around the world — is gaining ground as more and more global players commit to sourcing their ingredients and products more responsibly, particularly when it comes to food. In 2013, Ben & Jerry’s fulfilled its 2010 commitment to using only Fairtrade-certified cocoa, sugar, coffee, bananas and vanilla in its entire ice cream line. Last month, Mars Chocolate UK and Fairtrade Foundation announced they have extended their partnership to source Fairtrade-certified cocoa for MARS® Bars in the UK and Ireland by October of this year. Mars is the first UK company to announce a commitment under the new Fairtrade Cocoa Sourcing Programme, which aims to deliver more opportunities for cocoa farmers to sell on Fairtrade terms and connect them with businesses that actively support efforts to improve farmer livelihoods.
The textile industry has been under fire for egregious violations of human and labor rights worldwide, brought to light by the catastrophic Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed over 1,100 garment workers in 2013. While global players including H&M, Primark and Inditex have taken steps to improve the quality of life of the workers in their factories, inhospitable conditions persist and industry-wide change has yet to take hold.