Keep tabs on yourself and your suppliers.

These days, consumers do not just expect the responsible use of chemicals in textile production and high-quality textiles that are not harmful to health. They also want the products that they buy to be manufactured under environmentally friendly and socially acceptable conditions. With STeP by OEKO-TEX®, brands, retailers and manufacturers get a target-based solution for successfully meeting growing market requirements with regard to sustainability and for clearly and transparently documenting their efforts along the entire textile supply chain.

But that is still not enough. NGOs like Greenpeace and consumers themselves are also demanding environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. One such example is the Greenpeace Detox campaign, which aims to completely eliminate eleven hazardous chemical groups from textile production. DETOX TO ZERO by OEKO-TEX® helps production facilities to establish an efficient chemical management system that enables them to identify harmful substances and communicate their achievements in a credible way.

All your questions answered - what you need to know about STeP by OEKO-TEX®.

STeP stands for “Sustainable Textile and Leather Production”. It is an independent certification system that lets companies along the textile chain clearly demonstrate their commitment to sustainable production conditions through a neutral source. With STeP certification, you can lay the foundations for the permanent implementation and continuous improvement of sustainable production and working conditions in production facilities throughout your supply chain. Its modular structure allows for a comprehensive analysis and assessment of compliance with sustainability criteria in all the relevant areas of a company.

The aim of STeP certification is to permanently establish environmentally friendly production processes, improve work safety and promote socially acceptable working conditions in production facilities throughout the entire textile supply chain. Certified companies can continuously improve on their environmental performance, social responsibility and efficiency thanks to the regular updates of the STeP criteria. That in turn gives them the optimum competitive position. 

The six modules in STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification allow for a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of all the necessary company modules in terms of sustainable manufacturing conditions. These include:

  • Chemical management
  • Environmental performance
  • Environmental management
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Social responsibility
  • Quality management

Every production facility along the textile supply chain can have its production and working conditions certified in accordance with STeP (that includes, for instance, spinning mills, textile manufacturers, textile processing companies, manufacturers of ready-made products, producers of foams and mattresses or accessory suppliers). STeP certification for agricultural processes such as the cultivation of cotton or the production of sheep’s wool and downstream stages such as transportation is currently unavailable.

The STeP certificate issued after a production facility has been successfully audited is valid for three years and this period can be extended for an additional three years following successful re-certification. If problems are identified during the compliance audit or at any other point, a STeP by OEKO-TEX® certificate may also be revoked under certain special circumstances.

  • Independence: Hohenstein is a a founding member of OEKO-TEX®, an internationally recognized, independent association and an accredited, independent testing laboratory and inspection body. With STeP by OEKO-TEX®, we offer a standardized worldwide solution for greater sustainability throughout the entire textile industry.
  • Textile: Unlike other systems, STeP certification is specifically tailored to the conditions of the textile industry and therefore offers a well founded evaluation of sustainable production conditions. Thanks to our deep knowledge of every stage of distribution, Hohenstein is the OEKO-TEX® representative with the expertise required to provide a realistic evaluation of a company.
  • Transparency: STeP offers the greatest possible transparency for all stakeholders at every level: all the criteria and validation procedures are freely accessible. Certified companies have unlimited access to their data and the details of their evaluation. The evaluation system provides a condensed but comprehensive picture of sustainability performance for manufacturers, brands, retailers and even end consumers.
  • Holistic approach: We analyze every relevant area of a production facility taking the various individual components of the STeP certification into account.
  • Dynamism: The ongoing improvement process for certified companies is supported by the continuous further development of the STeP certification criteria. This helps to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable working and production conditions in the textile sector.
  • Communication: using the STeP certificate as a basis, STeP certification offers a trustworthy and comprehensive method of communicating with the customer and the media. The internationally recognized OEKO-TEX® brand strengthens the image of active participating companies.

Yes. Due to the global interconnectedness of the textile and clothing industry, only binding worldwide criteria make sense when it comes to an objective comparison of sustainable production conditions.

After the initial certification audit, both a compliance audit and unannounced audits of the company take place during the certificate validity period. As the responsible OEKO-TEX® institute, we verify compliance with the necessary criteria on site at the production facilities and analyze progress.

Chemical management

  • The introduction of a suitable chemical management system
  • Compliance with the specifications of a Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL)
  • Regular basic and advanced training on handling the chemicals used
  • Transparent communication and control of the chemicals used and their associated risks
  • Monitoring of chemical usage, the procurement of chemicals and auxiliary agents and their storage and application

Environmental performance

  • Compliance with the stipulated limit values (wastewater, emissions, etc.)
  • The use of production systems and equipment that meet the latest standards of technology
  • Efficient use of resources
  • Reduction of the carbon footprint

Environmental management

  • Implementation of existing environmental management systems for the systematic coordination and implementation of all environmental protection measures
  • Definition of environmental objectives
  • Regular creation of environmental reports

Social responsibility

  • Ensuring socially acceptable working conditions in line with UN human rights conventions and ILO core labor standards
  • Implementing management systems for continuously improving working conditions
  • Complying with strict requirement for working hours, wages, and so on
  • Involving local stakeholders    

Quality management

  • Implementation of a QM system, for instance, in line with ISO 9001 or other operational methods
  • Guaranteed traceability, responsibility, and appropriate documentation regarding the flow of goods and manufactured products
  • Further-reaching management issues such as risk management and corporate governance, including anti-corruption and company codes of conduct

Occupational health and safety

  • Implementation of recognized safety standards (for example, based on OHSAS 18001)
  • Measures for ensuring safety at the workplace and personal protective equipment
  • Ensuring the safety of buildings and production plants (e.g. through construction measures, escape plans, separation of production areas, etc.)

Some specific benefits of STeP that are not to be missed.

  • As a globally active brand or retail company, you can use STeP to search for suitable suppliers that meet your requirements for environmental protection and social responsibility.
  • As a brand or retailer, you can clearly and comprehensively document all your efforts in the area of sustainability for both the consumer and your supply chain.
  • As a textile and clothing manufacturer, you can make your production processes much more efficient on the basis of a STeP certification.
  • Independent verification allows you to publicly demonstrate your commitment to sustainable production conditions, enter new markets and establish new supplier relationships.
  • Unlike other certifications, STeP allows you to comprehensively analyze and evaluate your facilities in terms of sustainable production conditions.
  • STeP certification is specially tailored to conditions in the textile and clothing industry.  



New Carbon and Water Footprint Tool

The apparel sector is a key contributor to global emissions. In addition, water risk is growing and today the apparel sector is underperforming on measuring and monitoring water impact. At the same time, consumers and brands alike are increasingly selecting products and companies that demonstrate action and make commitments on key environmental topics like water usage and climate change.

OEKO-TEX® has launched a Carbon and Water Footprint Tool to provide STeP by OEKO-TEX® certified production facilities a transparent methodology and data models to help them quantify their carbon and water impacts. The beta testing phase of the new tool will start in September 2021.

The Screening Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tool’s output gives facilities the opportunity to measure and report their carbon emissions and water usage impact – at the facility level, by processing step or for 1 kg of material. This enables facilities to identify the biggest opportunities for carbon emission and water reductions - whether to change materials purchased or improve operations.

All your questions answered - what you need to know about DETOX TO ZERO by OEKO-TEX®.

DETOX TO ZERO by OEKO-TEX® is an intelligent and easy-to-use verification system for textile facilities that wish to achieve the objectives of the DETOX campaign. DETOX TO ZERO is not a classic certification system based on the method of “passed” and “not passed”. Rather, it places much greater emphasis on continuous improvement through the constant analysis of conditions at the company and the creation of a plan to reduce the amount of hazardous substances in the production process while introducing environmental protection measures. DETOX TO ZERO compiles an annual status report that lists the chemicals used and includes an assessment of the handling of waste and wastewater and environmental protection measures. It therefore gives both the production facility and its customers a continuous tool for monitoring the fulfillment of the objectives of the Greenpeace DETOX campaign.

DETOX TO ZERO by OEKO-TEX® enables manufacturers in the textile chain to assess the status of their chemicals management systems and the quality of their wastewater and sludge and to have these documented through independent verification. The ultimate goal is to completely eliminate eleven dangerous chemical groups from textile production, because these groups contaminate the environment to a high degree and can also accumulate in the human body due to their persistence.

The core aspects are the analysis and evaluation of:

  • The conformity of wastewater and sludge with the DETOX TO ZERO by OEKO-TEX® Manufacturing Restricted Substance List (MRSL)
  • The conformity of the chemicals stored in the company with the DETOX TO ZERO by OEKO-TEX® MRSL
  • The company organization

DETOX TO ZERO is designed for the supply chain of brands and retailers that have signed up to the Greenpeace Detox agreement and for suppliers and purchasers who endeavor to proactively ensure compliance with the objectives of the Greenpeace Detox campaign.

The validity period of a report is one year.

  1. Register at or inquire with Hohenstein.
  2. Fill out the online survey.
  3. An auditor verifies the entered company data and process information on site.
  4. You then receive a status report.

The DETOX TO ZERO system is fully integrated into the current OEKO-TEX® system. DETOX TO ZERO operates through the same software as STeP by OEKO-TEX®, which allows you to enter operating data easily and efficiently and monitor progress continuously.

Some specific benefits of DETOX TO ZERO that are not to be missed.

  • Gradual optimization and continuous monitoring of your chemical management system based on the objectives of the Detox campaign
  • Ensuring legal and/or NGO requirements
  • The status report provides you with a plan for continuous improvement to ensure that the chemicals used comply with DETOX TO ZERO by OEKO-TEX® MRSL to the greatest extent possible
  • Efficient tool for communicating the status of fulfilled Greenpeace Detox requirements
  • Independent data evaluation and verification
  • Key textile expertise by your side at every stage from data collection to the final evaluation
  • Full integration into the OEKO-TEX® system for product responsibility is possible at any time through the STeP by OEKO-TEX® platform
  • Optimization of process and product safety at every stage along the textile value creation chain
  • You have the opportunity to implement your “Detox” commitment before 2020 and to convey your efficient, credible and sustainable procurement procedures to more than 10,000 users of OEKO-TEX® around the world