November 8, 2019 THE GREEN BUTTON: This country just launched its own sustainability label
Germany introduces a new seal meant to signal products made according to social, ecological and sustainable criteria. But some wonder whether it goes far enough?
On September 9, the German Development Minister Gerd Müller was hosting a kick-off event in Berlin for the new textile seal the Grüner Knopf – the Green Button. The seal’s requirements have been developed by the German government, in close collaboration with stake-holders such as Alliance for Sustainable Textiles and German brands like Vaude. The Green Button is the first state-monitored seal for products that are made following social, ecological and sustainable guidelines. Minister Gerd Müller believes that the launch of the Grüner Knopf shows that responsible supply chains in the textile industry are possible on a larger scale, and explained at the event:
“This has been demonstrated by all the companies that are participating.”
Are the criteria too lax?
At the time of the launch, 27 companies had successfully passed the textile seal’s requirements. One of them was Vaude, reporting that the Grüner Knopf applies to 90 percent of the current apparel Collection and 75 percent of the entire Vaude product range.
Vaude’s CEO Antje von Dewitz, who was present at the event, said in a statement:
“More and more people wish to buy clothes with a clear conscience, but are finding it difficult to recognize ecologically and fairly produced products. The meaning of the various certification seals is also confusing. As a state-supervised certification seal, the Grüner Knopf offers consumers orientation for responsible shopping.”
However, the new seal has received criticism from the beginning. Civic organizations point out that the Grüner Knopf is not legally binding, with laws that would require textile manufacturers to comply with due diligence obligations and strict minimum standards for environmental and social issues.
“Vaude supports this demand. Legally binding regulation would affect all market participants and create fairer market conditions,” says Antje von Dewitz.