First textile company receives certificate for sustainable textile production

The certification of Hermann Bühler AG was the debut of the new certification system “Sustainable Textile Production (STeP) by OEKO-TEX®”

The Swiss yarn manufacturer Hermann Bühler AG was the very first company worldwide to receive a certificate for sustainable textile production in line with the certification system “Sustainable Textile Production (STeP) by OEKO-TEX®”, which was developed by the International OEKO-TEX® Association.

Serge Rolle and Adrian Meili from the Swiss textile testing institute TESTEX AG presented the very first certificate to the team of Martin Kägi (CEO Bühler Group) and René Reichmuth (CEO Bühler AG) during a small ceremony on 4 July 2013. Martin Kägi is very happy about the certificate: “The issue of sustainability is more and more in the public eye. Our company has already been employing an integrated strategy for some time, taking into account the manufacturing of first rate yarns as a basis for high-quality durable clothing as well as environmentally friendly production conditions. The interactive STeP web tool assessment quickly and unbureaucratically recorded our modern, effective production methods and the initiatives of our committed employees on a process and product level. We were also able to use the assessment phase to verify our current position. The certification for sustainable textile production is a confirmation for our actions so far and acts as further incentive.” René Reichmuth adds: “We are also very proud of the fact that we are the first textile company in the world to have achieved this. Now that is really something! We made a conscious decision for this new certification system because it does not just query whether certain factors have been achieved but also to what extent.”

Sustainable Textile Production (STeP) by OEKO-TEX®

The International OEKO-TEX® Association, based in Zurich/Switzerland, have developed STeP “Sustainable Textile Production” as a new certification to provide modular analysis for environmentally friendly and socially responsible companies in the textile chain. It provides globally active textile brands, retail companies and manufacturers along the textile chain with an objective and transparent tool for communicating their sustainable production conditions to the public in a clear and credible manner. The heart of the new STeP certification is the modular analysis of all relevant company areas such as quality management, use of chemicals, environmental protection, environmental management, social responsibility, and health and safety. As the certification tool is specifically tailored to the situations in the individual processing stages of the textile and clothing industry, it can provide interested companies with targeted support for the continuous improvement of their production conditions. Precondition for certification is the successful auditing of the production facilities through one of the associated OEKO-TEX® institutes. The assessment in how far STeP certified companies are already working sustainably is made on the basis of a scoring system using a web-based process. Existing company certificates such as ISO 9000, ISO 14001, SA 8000 etc. are recognised for STeP certification and will be taken into account for evaluation of the individual modules.

Adrian Meili from TESTEX also believes in the advantages of the STeP certification system: “Textile and clothing manufacturers can make their production processes much more efficient on the basis of a STeP certification. With the scorings for the individual areas, our system helps them to determine their company’s positioning with regard to sustainability and identifies areas for improvement. This transparent assessment in the modules and in the questions is provided by the new, modern STeP certification system which has replaced the company-based certification system OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000 as of July 2013. The previous system only allowed the companies to achieve one step to certification after the assessment. The main focus is clearly on depicting all activities within the company.“

Hermann Bühler AG

The Swiss Hermann Bühler AG produces yarn for the most discerning customers at their factory in Winterthur. The company, whose tradition goes back 200 years, set standards with regard to innovative products, first-rate quality and prfect customer service. The extensive range of yarns is produced by 145 employees in the Swiss canton of Zurich. Numerous yarn qualities, which the company supply to many international circular knitting mills, weaving mills and warp knitting mills, are the basic material for a great variety of swiss+cotton® textiles. The yarn range of the company meets the highest requirements not only where product quality is concerned, however, but also in terms of production ecology. As one of the very first companies, Hermann Bühler AG have been documenting the human ecology optimisation of their yarns according to OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 to the public since 1993. And since 2007 the factory has been certified as an environmentally friendly and socially acceptable production facility in line with the requirements of OEKO-TEX® Standard 1000. With the new certification according to STeP by OEKO-TEX®, Hermann Bühler AG once again prove their comprehensive commitment to environmental protection and sustainability which is firmly rooted in the company philosophy.