STeP by Oeko-Tex makes the sustainability of production facilities throughout the textile value-creation chain visible using a transparent scoring system. STeP gives brands, retailers, and manufacturers the opportunity to have each area of their company facilities analysed and assessed according to environmental and social criteria by an independent body.
From February 1 new criteria have come into effect. In the latest version of the STeP standard, the following modifications have been made:
- The STeP list of excluded harmful substances for textile production (Manufacturing Restricted Substances List or MRSL) now complies with the requirements of the ZDHC initiative (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals).
- In the Environmental Performance module, the previous requirements have been expanded to include an additional point on handling sludge from waste water treatment. Sludge must be stored by companies with STeP certification in a way that rules out any ground contamination.
- In the new STeP standard, the Social Responsibility module contains minor amendments to further improve employee working conditions. For instance, certified companies in the future will have to satisfy statutory regulations relating to a suitable level of maternity protection. If there are no statutory regulations, the companies are encouraged to define their own company guidelines to ensure paid maternity leave in the context of ILO Core Labour Standard 183.
- The overview of third-party certifications accepted by Oeko-Tex, which is included in appendix C of the STeP standard, has been expanded to include an additional category for ethical standards. In this, the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) has now been explicitly listed as a reference tool that STeP certified companies can use to provide evidence of the responsible procurement of feathers and down for the manufacture of their products.