Oeko-Tex is a registered trademark, representing the product labels and company certifications issued and other services provided by the International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile and Leather Ecology (which also calls itself Oeko-Tex for short).
Oeko-Tex labels and certificates confirm the human-ecological safety of textile products and leather articles from all stages of production (raw materials and fibers, yarns, fabrics, ready-to-use end products) along the textile value chain. Some also attest to socially and environmentally sound conditions in production facilities.
The International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile and Leather Ecology (Oeko-Tex) with headquarters in Zürich (Switzerland) was founded in 1992. Founding members were the German Hohenstein Institute and the Austrian Textile Research Institute (OETI). Currently, the Oeko-Tex Association includes 18 neutral test and research institutes in Europe and Japan with contact offices in over 70 countries around the world.
The Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex product label, introduced (as Oeko-Tex Standard 100) in 1992, certifies adherence to the specifications of the standard by the same name, a document of testing methods and limit values for potentially harmful chemicals. This independent testing and certification system may be applied to textile materials, intermediate products at all stages of production and ready-made textile articles. Examples of eligible items for certification are raw and dyed finished yarns, raw and dyed finished fabrics and knits, and consumer goods (all types of clothing, home and household textiles, bed linen, terry cloth items, textile toys and more).
The Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex aims at making it obvious to consumers that the labeled textile products have undergone laboratory testing for a wide range of harmful substances, and that the content of those substances remains below the limit values established by the Oeko-Tex Association.
The introduction of the standard established a globally standardized quality assurance system for manufacturers and retailers, taking into account the decreased vertical range of manufacture in the individual facilities of the textile and clothing industry, and compensating for regionally different evaluation standards for the risk potential of harmful substances. Use of the Oeko-Tex certificate documents compliance with human-ecological requirements to subsequent production levels and consumers.
Test criteria and limit values are globally binding and are updated and expanded each year. The current version of the Standard 100 is available at the official website. Test parameters include substances banned or regulated by law as well as yet unregulated substances that are known to be problematic.
Textile products are tested for their content of several hundred individual substances from 17 groups of chemicals. The standard takes into account
Furthermore, all tested items must have a skin-friendly pH value and good color fastness. They are tested for emissions of volatile chemicals and are subjected to an olfactory test.
Once issued, the Oeko-Tex certificate is valid for one year.
The Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex is the product label for textiles tested for harmful substances with the largest prevalence worldwide. More than 10,000 manufacturers in almost 100 countries currently participate in Oeko-Tex certification. To date, the Oeko-Tex Association has issued over 160,000 Standard 100 certificates for textile products from all stages of production (as of 12/2015).
According to a consumer survey by GfK in 2006, the label 'Confidence in Textiles' has a brand recognition (aided recall) level of over 46% in Germany. A consumer survey by BBE Retail Experts carried out in seven European countries (Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands) in 2008 found an average recognition level of 42% for the Oeko-Tex label. In a 2012 survey with 3349 participants from 13 countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, France, Portugal, Great Britain, Denmark, Poland, Russia, Turkey, China), the Cologne Institute for Research in Retail Issues (IFH) found a mean aided recall level of 42% as well.