One of our retailers recently asked an important question: Are different certifications issued within the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)?
The answer is YES.DID YOU KNOW… that the above seals, one from each of these USDA-approved third-party organic content certifiers, can have different meanings and levels of certification?
BE AWARE – Consumers need to be aware that GOLS and GOTS seals by themselves do not distinguish between FINISHED PRODUCT CERTIFICATIONS and INDIVIDUAL COMPONENT CERTIFICATION FOR A RAW MATERIAL (unless you read Page 2)!
DON’T BE FOOLED – One manufacturer of a complex textile, such as a mattress, may show either of the seals next to a finished product when only one of many components and sub-assemblies has actually been certified organic.
So what are the differences, and how can you distinguish between them?
GOLS and GOTS offer two different organic certifications:
1. A finished-product organic certification, and
2. An organic certification for individual components of a product, which is usually issued to growers or yarn producers, not to the manufacturer.
KNOW WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK – First, ask to see a copy of a certification, and make certain that it is in the manufacturer’s name and that the date is current. Usually you will find that certifications from growers merely show that a crop or component went through a third-party audit for organic certification, and that the grower’s certificates are NOT TRANSFERABLE.
Certificates must be in the name of the producer. Each retailer claiming the GOLS or GOTS seal must be audited in order to assure consumers that they have purchased the claimed organic component and that is has been used in their actual product.
MISLEADING – Placing the seal next to an image of a finished product such as a mattress gives the impression that the final or finished product has been audited and has met the stringent requirements of a total CERTIFIED ORGANIC PRODUCT.
For example, the GOLS certification offers two different label-grading designations:
- A manufacturer can label their finished product “Certified Organic” if the product contains 95% or more certified organic latex and other certified organic material. In addition, the manufacturer must submit to a third-party audit to prove their claims.
- A manufacturer can label a product “Made with X% of Organic.” They are claiming that if their product contains a minimum of 70% certified organic latex and they have submitted their product to an independent third-party audit to prove their claims, they are entitled to claim a “Made With” designation. (Without the audit, how can a consumer verify what they “claim”?)
Many everyday consumers do not know to look for this labeling or to ask for Page 2, and they do not understand what it means. Unfortunately, GOLS and GOTS do not have different logos to distinguish between finished-product certification and other certifications.
GOLS and GOTS use the same logo for all of their certifications.
This creates confusion in the marketplace, with consumers thinking they are purchasing something that may not be what they think they are purchasing.
Here are a few examples of how this could confuse the average consumer:
1. If a MATTRESS is marketed as GOLS-certified it should hold the finished-product certification, rather than just component/process certifications in their company name.
2. For instance, a mattress that is composed of both certified organic latex and memory foam would not hold the finished-product certification, because the memory foam does not meet the standards for nontoxic materials.
3. A mattress composed of a 100% “natural” (as opposed to certified organic) latex core with a GOTS-certified organic cotton cover may hold a GOTS component certification in the manufacturer’s name for the fabric only, but it would be highly unlikely. The mattress as a whole would not be certified organic. Simply showing the fabric manufacturer’s GOTS certification on a website does not prove to consumers that they actually purchased the material or that it has been used in the product. Third-party audits mean everything!
All of these scenarios represent a time when each of these manufacturers could slap identical certification seals on their websites and the everyday consumer would have a hard time recognizing the differences between them.