TÜV SÜD tests and certifies textiles recycled content

Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and Recycled Claim Standard (RCS)

Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and Recycled Claim Standard (RCS)

27 July 2023

TÜV SÜD has been granted accreditation for the testing and certification of recycled textiles by the non-profit organisation, Textile Exchange. The company can thus now perform these certification activities in accordance with the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and the Recycled Claim Standard (RCS). The clothing and textile industries use this certification to prove that they are increasing the recycled content in their products and thereby saving resources, while considering both social and environmental factors throughout the value chain.

Established fashion labels sometimes launch dozens of new collections per year. At the same time, fast fashion results in an increasing number of “old textiles” in need of disposal. The EU’s new strategy strives to fight this trend by aiming to promote more sustainable and recyclable textiles. The number of companies using recycled raw materials in their textiles is on the rise. By opting for voluntary certification in accordance with the GRS and RCS standards, manufacturers and distributors demonstrate that their products have at least 50 per cent recycled content, the origin of which can be tracked at all times”, says Matthias Rosenthal, Vice President Consumer Products Business Line Softlines at TÜV SÜD. “By offering this certification, we help companies to live up to their responsibility for a sustainable and circular economy.”

As a positive side-effect, the companies are also strengthening their competitiveness as the origin and ecological footprint of fashion products moves into the forefront of consumer interest. The GRS and RCS standards can be used for testing both intermediate and finished products, but also production sites as well as social and environmental aspects. The GRS logo may be affixed to every certified product or every certified site. Market players can thus increase transparency throughout their value chain, protect themselves from greenwashing and make a contribution to reaching the sustainability goals. Last but not least, they reduce the environmental impact caused by the use of energy and water, dyes and bleaching agents as well as waste disposal.

Similarities and differences of the standards

The GRS standard managed by Textile Exchange focuses specifically on the textile industry and covers several stages throughout the production chain. The RCS standard, by contrast, takes a broader approach and is applied in various industries. The GRS standard focuses on tracking recycled materials and compliance with environmental and social standards. It additionally includes specific requirements for chemicals management, waste minimisation and water consumption. However, RCS focuses on verification and identification of recycled content in a product and also includes chain of custody verification.

Durability tests to support sustainability goals

The EU textile strategy is not only aimed at improving recycling; it also strives to design energy efficiency, durability and repairability into products from the outset in order to keep waste and harmful environmental impacts to a minimum. This includes the following goals and actions:

  • Extending the life of textiles
  • Increasing recyclability and recycled content
  • Prohibiting the destruction of unsold or returned textiles
  • Introducing a digital passport to serve as a basis for decision-making and strengthen consumer rights

“If we are to achieve these goals, it is imperative to invest in innovative and sustainable production facilities in order to make fashion and textiles more durable, recyclable and sustainable. We need to ensure traceability throughout the supply chain and ensure that companies, governments, non-profit organisations and consumers cooperate even more closely in future. The outcome will be a more sustainable and transparent recycling system, enabling us to minimise textile waste and environmental impacts”, says Raffaela Santoro, Global Strategic Solutions Director Softlines at TÜV SÜD.

By offering durability tests, TÜV SÜD is supporting the clothing and textile industries in helping them to reach their sustainability goals and take an important step towards a circular economy. The experts test textile raw materials and products for tensile and flexural strength, colour-fastness and wash resistance. They also look into surface abrasion, wrinkling and pilling; in the latter, loose fibres become entangled and form small balls of fibre on the fabric surface. The information gained in these tests helps companies to improve the efficiency and sustainability of their material use and production and to embrace social responsibility.

Softlines at TÜV SÜD

TÜV SÜD has a global network of around 25 testing laboratories for leather and textiles. Its services range from physical tests to chemical analyses. The TÜV SÜD experts offer product testing as well as on-site pre-shipment inspection, and provide auditing and certification in accordance with all leading national and international standards. TÜV SÜD thus supports manufacturers, exporters and purchasers worldwide, helping them to reliably meet all quality and safety standards.


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Press-contact: Dirk Moser-Delarami

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