The Vienna-based Institute for Ecology, Technology and Innovation (ÖTI) has started carrying out audits of textile companies to allow them to obtain the vegan logo (V-label) of the Austrian Vegan Society. The first pilot project with long-standing ÖTI customer Vossen – one of the leading terry cloth manufacturers in Europe – has already been successfully carried out.
Challenge: Plant-based textiles are not always vegan
“Veganism is a global trend – we believe that our world-first certified towel collection also has great international potential. We are just beginning to introduce our towels to the world,” says Paul Mohr, Managing Director of Sales and Marketing at Vossen. “At the beginning of the process there was the realization that cotton towels are not always vegan. The biggest challenge for us was to find substitution products that did not contain any animal ingredients, to make them ready for production, and to integrate them into the production process.”
The V-label requires the disclosure of all components of a textile product. All production auxiliaries are also tested, and animal-derived raw materials are not permitted. This applies, for example, to wool, leather, fur, fleece, silk, buttons made of horn or mother-of-pearl, animal waxes and fats (e.g. in sizing or finishing), and dyestuffs or dyeing auxiliaries of animal origin. In the case of Vossen, the coating contained animal wax and therefore had to be changed.
Global potential of vegan-certified textiles
As with Vossen, Johannes Gilli, Head of the Seal of Quality Division at the Austrian Vegan Society, also has high hopes for the new collaboration: “The market for vegan-certified textiles is currently a niche one that is still barely occupied and offers great potential for standing out from the crowd. The market for vegan products is currently by far one of the most promising for growth.”
The vegan population is growing rapidly both in Austria and globally. There are currently more than 105,000 vegans in Austria, and together with vegetarians they make up over 10% of the population. But Gilli doesn’t only see vegans as the target group: “Around 52% of the population would like to consciously use fewer animal products in their everyday lives.” Globally, the number of those who call themselves vegans has risen by over 300% in the last decade.
Certification and MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX®
In the case of certification with the V-label, each individual product, including its manufacturing process, is precisely controlled by the awarding authority – the Vegan Society in Austria. The Vegan Society uses suitable control points for regular on-site inspections. When selecting inspection points, having further sustainable standards, such as organic or other reputable environmental standards, also plays a role. “In the textile sector, collaboration with ÖTI for its MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® standard was an obvious choice. The ÖTI now carries out regular checks at production sites for the V-label. We have already received further enquiries from Austrian textile producers and expect increasing demand in this area,” explains Johannes Gilli.
Collaboration with external inspection bodies for regular audits is still relatively new for the V-label. In some countries, such as Turkey, Egypt, Italy, the Czech Republic, Morocco, and Iran, this is already happening.