STeP is an independent certification system that lets companies clearly demonstrate their commitment to sustainable production through a neutral partner. STeP certification lays the foundation for continuous improvement of sustainable production and working conditions in production facilities throughout the supply chain. The certification's modular structure allows for comprehensive assessment of compliance with sustainability criteria in all relevant areas.
- Used by global brands and retailers to find independently verified suppliers that meet environmental protection and social responsibility requirements
- Enables clear and comprehensive documentation of sustainability efforts to the supply chain (certification) and to consumers (MADE IN GREEN label)
- Facilitates trust for entering new markets and partnerships through independent verification
- Helps manufacturers throughout the supply chain improve efficiency in production processes
- Supports comprehensive analysis and evaluation of sustainable production conditions
- Specifically tailored to conditions in the textile, leather and apparel industries
- OEKO-TEX® collaborations, such as the Open Apparel Registry and Foursource, help increase the visibility of certified companies
STeP certification establishes environmentally friendly production processes, improves worker safety and promotes socially responsible working conditions in production facilities throughout the supply chain.
Certified companies continuously improve their performance and efficiency with built-in benchmarking and regular updates to the STeP criteria. Competitive position gained by the manufacturer is backed by 3rd party certification.
The six modules in STeP by OEKO-TEX® certification allow for a comprehensive analysis and evaluation of all the necessary aspects of sustainable manufacturing:
- Environmental performance (e.g. resource efficiency, consumption & emission limits, waste management, etc.)
- Chemical management (e.g. compliance with MRSL, prevention, evaluation, education, monitoring, etc.)
- Quality management (e.g. documentation, traceability, risk management, etc.)
- Environmental management (e.g. legal compliance, reporting, training, prevention, etc.)
- Social responsibility (e.g. human rights, education, training, fair wages, communication, etc.)
- Health & Safety (e.g. worker & workplace safety, produces safety, prevention, plans, training, etc.)
Every production facility along the supply chain can have its production and working conditions certified with STeP.
STeP certification is currently unavailable for agricultural processes such as the cultivation of cotton or the production of sheep’s wool and downstream stages such as transportation.
- Dry spinning, twisting and related processes
- Wet spinning and related processes
- Weaving, knitting, production of non-wovens and related processes
- Dyeing, printing, finishing, coating and related processes
- Making up of products through cutting, sewing and related processes
- Retanning, dyeing, fatliquoring
- Finishing of leather
- Making up of leather products
- Manufacturing of accessories (e.g. zips, buttons, labels)
- Manufacturing of foams and mattresses
- Textile & Leather logistics
- Other (e.g. non-agricultural fibre production)
OEKO-TEX® and Hohenstein support the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) industry initiative and ensure compliance with the ZDHC MRSL.
- The STeP MRSL already covers all chemicals banned from intentional use by the latest ZDHC MRSL
- The STeP chemical list covers all substances and parameters required by the ZDHC guideline
- ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX® is compliant with the ZDHC MRSL and facilitates ZDHC Gateway listing at levels 1, 2 or 3
- Hohenstein is accredited by ZDHC to test wastewater compliance.
- Independence: Hohenstein is an accredited, independent testing laboratory and inspection body and a founding member of OEKO-TEX®, an internationally recognized, independent association. We offer a standardized worldwide solution for greater sustainability throughout the industry
- Textile and leather: Unlike other systems, STeP certification is specifically tailored to the conditions of the textile and leather industries and offers a well-founded evaluation of sustainable production. With deep knowledge of every stage, Hohenstein has the expertise required to realistically and neutrally evaluate a company
- Transparency: STeP offers the greatest possible transparency for stakeholders at every level: all criteria and validation procedures are accessible. Certified companies have unlimited access to their data and the details of their evaluation. The evaluation system provides a condensed but comprehensive picture of sustainability performance for manufacturers, brands, retailers and consumers
- Dynamism: The ongoing improvement process for certified companies is supported by the continuous development of the STeP certification criteria
- Communication: STeP certification offers a trustworthy and comprehensive method of communicating with the customer and the media. The internationally recognized OEKO-TEX® brand strengthens the image of participating companies
- Holistic approach: We analyze every relevant area of a production facility, taking the various individual components of the STeP certification into account
Due to the global interconnectedness of the textile and apparel industry, only binding worldwide criteria can provide objective comparisons of sustainable production.
The applicant is disqualified if any of the exclusion criteria are present in the facility.
- The introduction of a suitable chemical management system
- Compliance with the Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL)
- Regular chemical handling training (basic and advanced)
- Transparent communication and control of the chemicals used and their associated risks
- Monitoring of chemical usage, the procurement of chemicals and auxiliary agents and their storage and application
- Compliance with the stipulated limit values (wastewater, emissions, etc.)
- The use of production systems and equipment that meet the latest standards of technology
- Efficient use of resources
- Reduction of the carbon footprint
- Implementation of existing environmental management systems for the systematic coordination and implementation of all environmental protection measures
- Definition of environmental objectives
- Regular creation of environmental reports
- Ensuring socially acceptable working conditions in line with UN human rights conventions and ILO core labor standards
- Implementing management systems for continuously improving working conditions
- Complying with strict requirement for working hours, wages, etc.
- Involving local stakeholders
- Implementation of a QM system in line with ISO 9001 or other operational methods
- Guaranteed traceability, responsibility and appropriate documentation regarding the flow of goods and manufactured products
- Further reaching management issues such as risk management and corporate governance, including anti-corruption and company codes of conduct
Occupational health and safety
- Implementation of recognized safety standards (example: based on OHSAS 18001)
- Measures for ensuring safety at the workplace and personal protective equipment
- Ensuring the safety of buildings and production plants (e.g. through construction measures, escape plans, separation of production areas, etc.)
The STeP certificate is issued after a production facility has been successfully audited and is valid for three years. This period can be extended for an additional three years following successful re-certification. If problems are identified at any point during the certification process, a STeP by OEKO-TEX® certificate may be revoked.
After the initial certification audit, a compliance audit and unannounced audits take place during the certificate validity period. As the responsible OEKO-TEX® institute, we verify compliance with the criteria at the production facilities and analyze progress.
Several carefully-vetted certifications (such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, SA8000 or OHSAS 18001/ISO 45001) can be seamlessly integrated into STeP certification. Compatible certifications are listed in Annex 8 of the STeP standard.
These third-party certifications help reduce the number of required assessment questions in the applicable STeP module. For example, ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX® certification is recognized in the chemical management module and Fair Wear or BCSI contribute to the social responsiblity module.
The STeP by OEKO-TEX® label can NOT be used for product labeling. It is only for B2B communcations about the sustainable manufacturing practices or the facility itself.
The STeP by OEKO-TEX® label contains information required when referencing a the STeP certification, including the certificate number and testing institute. When used, it must be clearly separated from other claims, legible (minimum width 1.06") and correctly proportioned (not skewed or stretched).
When applying for STeP certification, specify HOHENSTEIN as the institute you'd like to work with. Contact us if you need any help.