2 years Green Button

How is the label received by consumers? A résumé.

Green Button 2.0

The second and final public consultation on the Green Button 2.0 requirements has now been concluded. Find out here which next steps will be taken in the further development of the label.

Tips for sustainable consumption

Whether it’s borrowing, swapping, second-hand shopping or paying attention to sustainability - there are many ways to make your own consumption behaviour more conscious.

Purchasing guidance

The Green Button makes sustainably produced clothing easily recognisable.

Get involved now!

Make sustainability visible and get certified!

Good for people – good for the environment

The Green Button – combines criteria for businesses and products

The advisory council

The members of the expert advisory council have already had the chance to discuss the draft version of the Due Diligence Requirements.

Our motivation

In 2013, when the Rana Plaza textile factory collapsed, more than 1,100 people lost their lives. All of us are responsible for the people who manufacture the clothes we wear.

Corporate clothing with the government-run textile label

A growing number of companies make their commitment to sustainable textiles visible. Deutsche Bahn is now using sustainable workwear with the Green Button. Find out more here.

The Green Button

Our label of responsibility

The Green Button is a government-run certification label for sustainable textiles. Everyone who aims to purchase socially and environmentally sustainable clothes should look out for the Green Button. It is attached directly to the product, making it easy to find when you are shopping – in a reliable and consumer-friendly way.

Purchasing guidance

Three quarters of all consumers state that they believe sustainable fashion is important. Quite rightly; they do not want to wear a T-shirt that has been produced by people working 16-hour shifts and earning a pittance. Nor do they want a product that has been dyed with toxic chemicals. The Green Button shows that sustainable fashion is possible.

The government-run textile label you can trust

There is currently no other label like the Green Button. It demands that mandatory standards are met to protect people and the environment. A total of 46 stringent social and environmental criteria must be met, covering a wide spectrum from wastewater to forced labour.

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Socially sound

Good for people

The Green Button sets mandatory requirements for decent work, from guaranteed minimum wages and compliance with working hours to a ban on child labour and forced labour.

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Environmentally sound

Good for nature

The Green Button bans the use of hazardous chemicals and softeners, and lays down mandatory limits on effluent discharge.

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Government-run

A label you can trust

The government lays down the criteria and conditions for the Green Button – guaranteeing clarity you can trust.

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Independently certified

Independent audits

Independent auditors review compliance with the criteria set. 

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We support the Green Button

We support the Green Button

Markus Fertig  ‘The Green Button shows that companies are accepting their responsibility for people and for the environment, both within their own organisation and along the supply chain. They are taking a proactive stance!’

Markus Fertig Managing Director, Control Union Certifications Germany GmbH, CUC

Mueller ‘To everybody who still says, “What does that have to do with me?”, I respond – you, me, all of us are responsible for the people who manufacture the clothes we wear. We cannot keep buying cheap at the expense of others.’

Dr Gerd Müller German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development

Anke Roith-Seidel ‘The Green Button is the quality label that many people have been waiting for. Style at others’ expense? No chance. Ensuring that the textiles you buy have been produced and traded in a fair and environmentally sound manner is a fantastic look for any shopper. ‘

Susanne Breit-Keßler Green Button Ambassador, former Regional Bishop

Barbara Meier ‘We should never underestimate the power we have as consumers. At the end of the day, an entire industry gears itself also to meeting our wishes and needs.’

Barbara Meier Textile Ambassador

Kirmes ‘The Green Button is a reliable sign that textiles have been produced sustainably, and that this has been audited by government bodies. It was long overdue. Consumers need to be able to trust the promises that certification labels make.’

Dr Raoul Kirmes Head of Development of Business Segments, Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle GmbH (DAkkS - German national accreditation body)

Henning Siedentopp ‘The Green Button shows that our products and our companies have been audited for sustainability by government bodies. In many cases, we already exceed requirements. But the label helps us enhance processes and transparency.’

Henning Siedentopp Founder of MELAWEAR

Scheller ‘With the Green Button, the German Government is sending an important signal. It is a step in the right direction towards sustainability. Other branches of industry can follow suit.’

Ralf Scheller Chief Operating Officer, TÜV Rheinland AG

Alexander Birken ‘I welcome the initiative of Gerd Müller, Federal Development Minister, to offer consumers more guidance when it comes to buying sustainable, fairly manufactured textiles. The Otto Group actively supports this goal and the first companies within the group are already taking up the challenge of certification.’

Alexander Birken CEO, Otto Group Holding

Beirholm, Peter "Sustainability knows no boundaries. Being the first company outside Germany to be awarded the Green Button makes us proud. The Green Button, as a government-run certification label, creates trust and orientation. We look forward to collaborate with the Green Button to further strengthen sustainability in our industry."

Peter Beirholm CEO at Beirholms Væverier A/S

What does the Green Button audit?

Before a company is certified to use the Green Button, it must comply with 46 social and environmental criteria.

What sets the Green Button apart is that the entire company is audited. Offering individual products for show is not enough.

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Product

Before a T-shirt or bed linen can use the Green Button label, they must comply with 26 social and environmental criteria, known as product requirements. The Green Button builds on recognised certification labels.

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Company

In addition to the products in question, the company as a whole is audited. It must demonstrate its responsibility for human rights, social welfare matters and environmental concerns on the basis of another 20 criteria, known as due diligence requirements. 

The goal – textile production from the fibre to the clothes hanger

Before a garment is bought in a store, it goes through a large number of stages. A normal T-shirt often travels 18,000 km between the cotton field and the clothes hanger. At every step along the way, there are different social and environmental challenges.

During the introductory phase, the Green Button will not yet cover the entire supply chain. Initially, the cutting and sewing as well as bleaching and dyeing stages will be audited. The challenges are greatest here. As part of the further development, expansion to other supply chain stages is planned (material- and fibre use, spinning and weaving).

The Green Button is designed to protect people and the environment all the way along the supply chain, from the cotton field to the clothes hanger.

Textilzyklus
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Textilzyklus

Material- and fibre use

In the further development

A tremendous amount of water is needed to grow natural fibres like cotton. This sector accounts for 25 per cent of all insecticides used worldwide. And exploitative child labour is still often used in cotton growing.

Chemicals and petroleum are used to produce synthetic fibres, releasing harmful substances in the process.

Weaving and spinning

In the further development

In spinning mills, the fibres are processed to make yarn and then fabrics. Compliance with social standards is a major challenge at this stage of production: child labour and forced labour, long working hours, wages well below minimum wage are all commonplace.

Bleaching and dyeing

Some companies use hazardous chemicals to bleach, dye and impregnate fabrics. Seriously contaminated wastewater finds its way into drinking and groundwater reserves and jeopardises the health of workers and local residents.

Cutting and sewing

Working conditions in the cutting and sewing of textiles frequently fall short of international standards: piece work in stuffy factories, 16-hour shifts, a lack of protective clothing, workers fired if they become pregnant. Safety precautions in textile factories are often inadequate, which was all too vividly illustrated by the collapse of the Rana Plaza textile complex.

Many products already meet all the standards, from the cotton field to the clothes hanger. 
An extension to other supply chain stages (material- and fibre use, spinning and weaving) is planned in the further development of the Green Button.

Next steps

  • Consumers will find a QR code or a link on every item carrying the Green Button label. This will take them to a database with basic information about the certified companies and products. We are beginning with key data and are continuously adding more information as the Green Button is developed.
  • Expansion of the criteria to include paying a living wage rather than the minimum wage
  • In further development it is planned to expand to more supply chain stages (material- and fibre use, spinning and weaving).
  • Completion of the accreditation programme at the Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle GmbH (DAkkS - German national accreditation body).
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FAQ

Frequently asked questions – the Green Button

What is the Green Button?

The Green Button is the government-run certification label for textiles manufactured in a socially and environmentally sound manner. What is special about the Green Button is that the entire company is audited to ascertain whether it acts responsibly. Offering individual products for show is not enough.

What companies are currently certified to use the Green Button for audited textiles?

You can find an up-to-date list here.

Don’t we have enough certification labels already?

That is precisely the problem. Given the large number of different certification labels, many people are simply confused. Some labels focus on fair working conditions, while others stand for a ban on toxic chemicals. The Green Button provides guidance. Textiles carrying the Green Button certification label are manufactured in a socially and environmentally sound manner – in line with the highest standards.

Where will the Green Button be found on the garment?

The Green Button will be easy to spot – as a symbol – either on the label or directly on the product or packaging.

How is the Green Button audited?

Independent auditors check for compliance with the required standards. If necessary, they also audit the production sites in production countries, such as Bangladesh or Romania. The auditing bodies are selected on the basis of their specialist experience.

Will only garments carry the Green Button?

The Green Button covers almost all textiles, including articles such as garments, backpacks and bed linen. Textiles made of chemical or synthetic fibres are also covered, because it is important to protect people and the environment in the manufacturing process of all products. You can download a detailed overview of the recognised product classes here.

Is the entire supply chain covered by the Green Button?

Not yet. Initially, the Green Button is focusing on cutting and sewing (manufacturing) and bleaching and dyeing (wet processes). These are the stages at which the social and environmental challenges are greatest. In further development it is planned to expand to further supply chain stages (material- and fibre use, spinning and weaving).

Will the Green Button be further developed?

Yes, the Green Button is to be continuously further developed with the help of an independent expert advisory council. This will involve expanding the underlying standards for companies and products, to include living wages for instance. Other manufacturing stages are also to be covered, because the Green Button aims to protect people and the environment along the entire textile supply chain.

The independent expert advisory council was set up in March 2020, with Michael Windfuhr, Deputy Director of the German Institute for Human Rights, elected as Chair. Sustainability expert Achim Lohrie serves as Deputy Chair.

The advisory council members are, in alphabetical order:

Dr Raoul Kirmes, Head of Development of Business Segments, Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle GmbH (DAkkS - German national accreditation body)

Achim Lohrie, Lohrie-Consulting, Sustainability Expert

Prof Stefanie Lorenzen, Professor of Business Law, especially Industrial Law and Social Legislation, at the Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR)

Philipp von Bremen,  Head of Consumer Policy Division at the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv)

Michael Windfuhr, Deputy Director, German Institute for Human Rights

 

Does the Green Button apply to all products of a manufacturer or only individual products?

Every single product must be audited. If a garment bears the Green Button, it meets all requirements. Some companies can already use the Green Button for their entire range, and others only for individual products. But in every case the entire company must set about improving its supply chain (the entire company is always audited before any single product is awarded the Green Button, see ‘company audit’).

How and how often is a company audited to ensure compliance?

The company is re-audited every three years. During the intervening period, audits are carried out each year on a random basis. If there are any indications of irregularities, unannounced checks can be carried out, including at the production unit in the production country.

Who is behind the Green Button?

The label is owned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The BMZ lays down the criteria and conditions for the Green Button.

Independent auditors check compliance and ensure that standards are met.

A Green Button Secretariat has been set up at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

What is the legal basis for the Green Button?

The Green Button is registered at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office as a national certification mark – the first one in Germany.

 

What is the difference between the Green Button and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles?

The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is a multi-stakeholder initiative that supports members, helping them to exercise corporate due diligence. The Green Button is awarded to products from companies that already meet stringent social and environmental standards and intend to further raise these standards in future.

The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles is an important basis for the Green Button in terms of corporate due diligence. We can be proud of achievements to date. Last year alone, members implemented some 1,000 concrete measures as part of individual targets and collective engagement. By way of example, 160 toxic chemicals have been banned from the manufacturing processes of members. The percentage of sustainable cotton is set to rise to 35 per cent in 2020 and to 70 per cent by 2025. Water consumption is being significantly reduced in many factories. Within the scope of Partnership Initiatives in production countries, members are working on issues such as living wages, which can only reasonably be addressed in conjunction with all stakeholders.

Any more questions about the Green Button?

Get an answer!