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Life Cycle Based Comparison of Textile Ecolabels

Diekel, Felice; Mikosch, Natalia; Bach, Vanessa; Finkbeiner, Matthias

FG Technischer Umweltschutz / Sustainable Engineering

Environmental impacts of textile production increased over the last decades. This also led to an increasing demand for sustainable textiles and ecolabels, which intend to provide information on environmental aspects of textiles for the consumer. The goal of the paper is to assess selected labels with regard to their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their coverage of relevant environmental aspects over the life cycle of textiles. We applied a characterization scheme to analyse seven selected labels (Blue Angel Textiles, bluesign®, Cotton made in Africa (CMiA), Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Global Recycled Standard (GRS), VAUDE Green Shape), and compared their focus to the environmental hotpots identified in the product environmental footprint case study of t-shirts. Most labels focus on the environmental aspects toxicity, water use, and air emissions predominantly in the upstream life cycle phases of textiles (mainly garment production), whereas some relevant impacts and life cycle phases like water in textile use phase remain neglected. We found significant differences between the ecolabels, and none of them cover all relevant aspects and impacts over the life cycle. Consumers need to be aware of these limitations when making purchase decisions.