Mr. Sumit Gupta is M.Tech. & B.Tech., a sustainability professional in the field of Textile Processing. He has 11+ years of experience in Eco-Fashion, RSL, Chemical Compliance, Sustainability Management, Social Compliance, Technical Certifications, Eco-Labels, Content Marketing and Consulting. Currently, he is working with German Standard Organisation – Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) as their ‘Deputy Director Standard Development & Quality Assurance’ and also ‘Representative in India & Bangladesh’.
As Deputy Director, he supports the company for international activities related to Standard Revision, standard comparisons, supporting GOTS Approved Certifiers, and various other activities related to progress and interpretation of the standard. As Representative, his role involves creating more interest and awareness about ‘Organic Textiles’ at the level of producers, exporters, retailers, educational institutes & consumers. His role also involves liaison with media, trade organisations and government. He has presented in various international conferences, seminars, colleges and companies and has been extensively working towards creating awareness about importance of Chemical RSL, Traceability, Social & Environmental compliances in textile industry.
Mr. Gupta has previously worked with Hohenstein India Pvt Ltd, which is the official testing body for Oeko-Tex Standard 100 in India. Before joining his Master’s degree, he worked for a year in production department in Aarti International Ltd.
He was awarded with Charter Colourist (C. Col) by Society of Dyers and Colourists, UK and Associateship (ASDC) by Society of Dyers and Colourists, UK. Also awarded with Gold Medal in B.Tech., being the University Topper in Textile Technology Department of Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar.
Q.: Sir, you are Textile Graduate, so how and where you have started your career?
Ans.: I completed my B.Tech in year 2006. I was awarded Gold Medal for being the University Topper. I started working in production department of Aarti International Ltd after graduation. After one year, I joined Institute of Chemical Technology (formerly UDCT) for M.Tech.
Q.: Can you walk through the memory lane and share with us about your memorable journey after passing M.Tech from ICT, Mumbai?
Ans.: Two years of M.Tech., from ICT were spent in intensive studies and research. I had the opportunity to work under the guidance of Prof. Dr. MD Teli. These studies further prepared me for the industry. I was also awarded the Mrs. Asha Khemani Memorial Best Student Award in Textile Department.
Post M.Tech., I joined Hohenstein India Pvt Ltd, the official testing body for Oeko-Tex in India. I had the opportunity to start their Ahmedabad office and lead that office. In March 2012, I joined Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
Q.: Give us a brief introduction of Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and are there any innovations or changes in criteria in your Standards time to time?
Ans.: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the world’s leading standard for processing of textiles made from organic fibres. The standard includes ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
GOTS versions are released every three years. Currently GOTS version 5.0 is implemented worldwide. GOTS Version 6.0 is scheduled to be released in April 2020. Every new version of GOTS is a result of a comprehensive stakeholder input process. Various international organizations with expertise in organic production, chemical manufacturing, textile processing and social criteria participate in the revision process. It follows the overall approach of GOTS to define high level verifiable environmental and social criteria.
Q.: What is GOTS Certification and how it is assigned to implement the quality assurance system?
Ans.: GOTS certification is done through approved Certification Bodies (CBs). CBs are assigned with the implementation of the GOTS quality assurance system (GOTS Certification). GOTS approved CBs are listed on our website.
CB will verify adherence to all aspects of GOTS criteria during on-site inspection of a textile processing unit. Non-conformities, if any, must be cleared within 60 days. Besides, testing of product for hazardous substance residues, drinking water quality, wastewater, etc. On-site inspection for chemical input suppliers is not included in current standard, but it might be included in future.
Q.: How does it helps to your licensees?
Ans.: There are numerous ways in which companies benefit from becoming certified to GOTS. Some benefits are it serves as comprehensive risk management tool for entire supply chain. Furthermore, it sets strict and extensive environmental and social criteria. Additionally, as a part of GOTS requirements, they work on improving energy and water use efficiencies in their respective operations, leading to improvement in productivity. Sustainability innovation adds value over conventional products.
Social and environmental conformance is necessary for the whole facility for the whole year, irrespective of number of organic orders processed in a year. Companies can communicate to their respective buyers about their commitment to sustainability by means of their GOTS certified status. This leads to increase in credibility of their claims as well as possibilities of getting bigger orders from reputed brands.
Q.: What are your requirements or the conditions to obtain GOTS certificate?
Ans.: Besides use of minimum 70% organic fibers, GOTS mandates processing of organic fibers in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
Chemical inputs like dyes, inks, pigments, auxiliaries, enzymes, etc. must be approved prior to being used for processing of GOTS goods. The approval process includes testing for hazardous substance, biodegradability and toxicity requirements. Finished textile products are also tested testing for residues of hazardous substances.
Wastewater must be treated prior to discharge and the discharged water must meet further standard guidelines. Similarly, there are guidelines for solid waste and air pollution. GOTS criteria also includes ban on hazardous processes like sandblasting and ammonia treatment.
The section of social includes ban on child labour, forced labour, excessive overtime, etc. Besides, provisions for health & safety, fire safety, building safety, etc. must be in place.
Q.: How can certified entities get permission to use GOTS logo?
Ans.: The facility applying the label must formally ask its Certification Body for label design approval. Uncertified retailers can ask their suppliers to get the ‘Label Release’ from its respective Certifier. The artwork of the GOTS label must include GOTS logo, label grade, reference to certifier and license number. A consumer can verify the license number of GOTS Public Database.
Q.: Can you let us know about the latest technological innovations taking place in GOTS?
Ans.: GOTS has launched “GOTS Monitor (Water/Energy)” to help the licensees monitor their water/ energy consumption and compare it with global benchmarks for their fabric/ shade/ machinery type etc. GOTS Monitor W/E also gives “Cost of Inefficiency” in financial terms. This helps the manufacturers to analyse their present situation. This also acts as a positive motivation to upgrade their processes to match the global levels. If the results are used to upgrade the processes involved, this can also act as a tool to enhance competitiveness in the international race. GOTS Monitor W/E is free to download and use for all GOTS licensees.
Q.: How GOTS observes Social Compliance in textile fields?
Ans.: GOTS has detailed criteria for social compliance (Section 3.0). If refers to relevant ILO conventions that are compulsory for all processing and manufacturing stages. Operators must establish social compliance management tools that support the implementation and monitoring of the social minimum criteria.
Companies must have a policy for social accountability to ensure that the social criteria can be met. They must support the implementation and monitoring of the social criteria.
Q.: How have you grown with a sustainable position in the global market?
Ans.: As an organization, GOTS has always believed in strong partnerships since its inception. GOTS actively engages with trade & consumer media, government, trade bodies and industry. As GOTS Representative in India & Bangladesh, I have been participating in several tradeshows, conferences, training programs, meetings and consultations across the country. Further, we support the stakeholders with several knowledge resources including videos, informational documents, fact sheets and so on. We are released a factsheet on correct GOTS Labelling, which has been appreciated by brands and industry alike. Another holistic factsheet explains how GOTS helps to meet UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are coming up with another factsheet on control of chemicals in GOTS. I invite you to visit the ‘Information Centre’ on our website. It includes interesting information for both industry and consumers.
Q.: Who are the key customers globally and how is the Indian market?
Ans.: As per Organic Cotton Market Report (OCMR) 2018 by Textile Exchange, global organic cotton production has increased from 107,980 MT to 117,525 MT. It registered a ten percent growth over last year. India’s share in global organic cotton production was at 51%. India retained its position as the world’s largest producer of organic cotton.
Top three countries that contributed to the global organic cotton volume growth are China, Tanzania & Uganda. India’s organic cotton production for the year was 59,470 MT.
According to OCMR 2017, top 10 buyers of organic cotton textiles were C&A, H&M, Tchibo, Nike, Inditex, Lindex, Boll & Branch, Woolworths, Williams Sonoma and Stanley/Stalla. Besides, there are more than 25 international brands in the 100% Organic Club, which means that they only sell organic textiles
As per 2018 data from GOTS, number of GOTS certified facilities worldwide was 5,760. It showed an increase of 14.6% as compared to 2017 data. GOTS certified textile processing facilities are in 64 countries around the globe. We shall be releasing 2019 data in March 2020. Stay tuned!
Q.: Indian Government is supporting and granting various incentives to the Textiles and Garments. Do you have any expectations from Govt.?
Ans.: Since much more investment, policy interventions, renewed interest by private and public seed companies, and other stakeholder interventions are needed in organic cotton farming sector, an Official Endorsement from the relevant authorities in Ministry of Textiles, Ministry of Commerce, APEDA and Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will enhance GOTS’ presence in India and will be highly beneficial to environment, society and organic textiles business in India.
GOTS is associated with QCI-UNFSS National Platform for Private Sustainability Standards in India and we are engaging with various stakeholders through that platform. We shall also be working towards getting recognition for responsible public procurement.
Q.: In your opinion what will be overall future of organic Textiles etc.
Ans.: GOTS mission is that organic textiles become part of everyday life of consumers. GOTS is a textile processing standard that begins with the first processing activity in textile chain, like ginning for cotton. It includes stringent environmental and social criteria at every processing step. In order to give a healthy life to our future generations, all of us must have a holistic approach towards our working. We must address the triple bottom line and work towards all the three aspects- People, Planet and Profit.
Q.: How do you see market segment growing in the next 5-10 years both locally and internationally?
Ans.: The potential of organic textiles remains underutilized in global and Indian markets. We need to consistently work together with media, NGOs, consumer organizations, retailers, designers and government to create more awareness in India.
Businesses must invest in social and environmental initiatives to reap long term economic benefits. Besides, close partnership and longstanding commitments with backward supply chain partners will lead to conversion of more land to organic and consistent supply during tough times.
Q.: At the end, what is your message to the Indian entrepreneurs?
Ans.: Domestic textile industry is undergoing a transformation, with sustainability and responsible luxury being the latest buzzwords. Scores of brands are offering organic textiles in Indian retail. More than ten brands I know are selling ‘certified’ organic textiles with GOTS label in India. We are working to increase both the number of such brands as well as the volumes.
Having said that, as the largest producer of organic cotton and organic textiles, India continues to be the world’s most popular sourcing destination for organic textiles. Responsible production practices are good for the planet and good for business at the same time!