The relaxation of standards for organic clothing has opened up new avenues for the country's embattled garment sector.
Organic clothing, a niche but lucrative market, requires strict adherence to organic farming and environmentally and socially responsible textile processing methods, which have so far been very restricting for the country's 5,000 garment producers.
But on March 1, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) International Working Group has modified a host of rules, giving textile manufacturers a larger choice of fabric mixes.
Previously, to get the organic certification, the material must contain a minimum of 70 percent organic fibres and 30 percent non-organic fibres but a maximum of 10 percent conventional synthetic fibres.
Now, “regenerated, respective synthetic” fibres—up to 30 percent—can be used provided they are environmentally certified. Examples of regenerated fibres include viscose and denim made from waste cotton.
GOTS said the focus on natural fibres for the permissible conventional 'additional fibre materials' is “no longer justifiable”.
“A wider product selection of GOTS certified products will be made possible which will also support the increased use of organic fibres,” Marcus Bruegel, GOTS technical directors, said in the statement.
Shams Almas Rahman, director of Stylecraft, a garment factory which exports organic clothing products, said the new rules will boost the country's garment exports.
Retailers charge more for organic clothing because the source of the clothing's fibre is free from herbicides, pesticides or genetically modified seeds.
“Organic clothing are patronised by upmarket customers,” said Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu, managing director of Active Composite Mills, which produces organic garment items.
The GOTS is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
Its core provisions include ban on the use of substances from disputed techniques such as generically modified organism, nanotechnology, carcinogenic substances.