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What does OEKO-TEX® STeP do?


STeP certification establishes environmentally friendly production processes, improves worker safety and promotes socially responsible working conditions in production facilities throughout the textile and leather supply chains.

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.

What aspects of sustainable manufacturing are checked?


The six modules in OEKO-TEX® STeP 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.)

What type of facility can be STeP certified?

(Facility Types)

Every production facility along the supply chain can be STeP certified for sustainable production and ethical working conditions.

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.


Textile processes can be OEKO-TEX® STeP certified.

  • 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

Leather processes can be OEKO-TEX® STeP certified.

  • Beamhouse
  • Tanning
  • Retanning, dyeing, fatliquoring
  • Finishing of leather
  • Cutting and sewing of leather products

Other processes can be OEKO-TEX® STeP certified.

  • Manufacturing of accessories (e.g. zips, buttons, labels)
  • Manufacturing of foams and mattresses
  • Textile & Leather logistics
  • Industrial laundries
  • Other (e.g. non-agricultural fibre production)

What factors automatically exclude a facility from certification?

(Exclusion Criteria)

The applicant is disqualified if any of the exclusion criteria are present in the facility.

What basic elements are required?

(Minimum Requirements)
Chemical Management

Chemical Management in Textile and Leather Production

  • 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
​​​​​​​Environmental Performance

​​​​​​​Environmental Performance in Textile and Leather Production

  • 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 carbon footprint
​​​​​​​Environmental Management

​​​​​​​Environmental Management in Textile and Leather Production

  • 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
​​​​​​​Social Responsibility

​​​​​​​Social Responsibility in Textile and Leather Production

  • 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
Quality Management

Quality Management in Textile and Leather Production

  • 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
Health & Safety

Occupational Health and Safety in Textile and Leather Production

  • 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.)

View full requirements in the OEKO-TEX® STeP standard

How long is a STeP certificate valid?

(Validity + Renewal)

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, an OEKO-TEX® STeP certificate may be revoked.

How long does it take to get OEKO-TEX® STeP certified?

(Certification Time)

Average: at least 3-6 months from application to data collection, evaluation, audit and certificate issue.

This depends greatly on how long the facility takes to complete the online assessment.

Are audits required for STeP certification?

(On-site Audits)

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.

Any audits required for STANDARD 100 or LEATHER STANDARD certificates owned by the same facility are conducted within the STeP audits.

Are other certifications recognized toward STeP certification?

(3rd-Party Certificates)

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, OEKO-TEX® ECO PASSPORT certification is recognized in the chemical management module and Fair Wear or BCSI contribute to the social responsibility module.

Does STeP certification comply with ZDHC?


OEKO-TEX® and Hohenstein support the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) industry initiative and ensure compliance with the ZDHC MRSL.

  • The STeP MRSL 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
  • STeP certified customers receive discounts for ZDHC Supplier to Zero:
    • ZDHC foundation level (level 1): 100% discount
    • ZDHC progressive level (level 2): 50% discount
  • OEKO-TEX® ECO PASSPORT 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.

Are STeP results transparently communicated?

(Certificate Options)

Can products be labeled with STeP certification?

(Labeling & Advertising)

NO. OEKO-TEX® STeP is NOT a product certification or label. STeP is company-related.

The OEKO-TEX® STeP label can NOT be used for product labeling. It is only for B2B communications about the sustainable manufacturing practices or the facility itself.

How does STeP relate to OEKO-TEX® product labels?


How much does STeP certification cost?

(Pricing Structure)

STeP certification fees are made up of:

Contact us for a quote.

What is the benefit of worldwide consistency?

(Global Standard)

With the global interconnectedness of the textile and apparel industry, only binding worldwide criteria can provide objective comparisons of sustainable production.

Why choose STeP over other sustainability certifications?

(Standards Comparison)
  • 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
Ben Mead
Managing Director
Hohenstein Americas