Eco-textile label scheme puts buyers in the know

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2008, 12:00am

In a move to consolidate its position as the leading global trade fair for natural and environmentally friendly fabrics, a new eco-textile labeling system will be launched at Interstoff Asia Essential this year.

The new coding initiative comes after close consultation with one of Japan's top textile experts Sachiko Inoue, who has worked alongside some of her country's leading eco-textile manufacturers.

She is also a long-time member of the Interstoff Asia directions trend committee.

Asked why the new labeling system was necessary, Wendy Wen Ting, director of trade fairs at Messe Frankfurt (Hong Kong), organiser of the event, said: 'Buyers nowadays not only need to know if the fabric is eco-friendly, but also which aspects of the fabrics are eco-friendly and whether they have certification and proof.'

The new system will allow buyers to easily identify and understand the raw materials and processes. Fabrics are categorised under one of four coloured labels: green, brown, blue or silver.

A green label signifies fabrics made from certified organic or environmentally friendly raw materials, such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, corn fibre, soy beans, charcoal, polylactic acid fibre, or paper.

A brown tag refers to fabrics that have been manufactured by a certified environmentally friendly process, where usage, contamination and pollution of air, water, noise, and energy sources have been controlled.

A blue label denotes materials manufactured with a certified environmentally friendly finishing process, such as through natural and non-toxic dyes for example or where remedial measures for water treatment have been taken.

A silver label is the ultimate category. It signifies fabrics made from certified organic or environmentally friendly raw materials and using an environmentally friendly manufacturing and finishing process.

All exhibitors showcasing their products in the special display forum 'Eco-textiles: Fabrics that Care' must adhere to the new system. 'Exhibitors will need to show proof of certification before their products will be accepted for display, ensuring high quality.'

Ms Wen said natural fabrics weren't necessarily trumping their man-made counterparts in popularity, but consumers were becoming more knowledgeable about such products.

'Chemical composite fibres are still largely produced and used for fabrics in various sectors such as apparel, home decor and industry due to its own function and quality,' she said. 'It is more appropriate to say that people are more conscious of fabrics made of natural fibres.'