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Fashion and Luxury Brands and the Global Recycled Standard

Learn how UL Solutions can help fashion and luxury brands communicate transparency with the Global Recycled Standard.

Woman checking the label of a shirt

Throughout the last decade, consumers’ sustainability expectations have changed.

When it comes to evaluating a product as sustainable, informed consumers focus on different aspects. Some concentrate on what materials are used to manufacture it and focus on whether it is organic, natural and/or has a recycled claim. Others focus on sustainable materials, as well as manufacturing and operating practices, expanding their interests into the social conditions of the value chain partners.

To keep up with these new expectations, brands and retailers are trying to sync with consumers on what it means to be sustainable. In response, companies are developing action plans to create, change or expand on their standard practices to act more responsibly and operate in a more sustainable and transparent way.

These changes are no longer considered optional. Rather, they are vital in maintaining consumers as their needs evolve. According to Forbes, in the last year, we have seen consumer preference for sustainable brands increase by 25%, as well as an increase in their desire to pay more for a product labeled as sustainable from brands they trust. Consumers are looking deeper than just a company’s products but look for its commitments around climate change and how they prove that their sustainability claims are not only a marketing message but a real actionable commitment.

Together, consumers and regulators are joining forces to set a clear directive and expectation to help fight greenwashing, the act of promoting misleading and unsubstantiated claims.

Previously, sustainability was seen as a voluntary act and something that could help companies differentiate from their competitors in a crowded marketplace. Now, many aspects of what was once voluntary for being a sustainable company are becoming mandatory with the passing of new regulations and initiatives.

In EU member countries, in the U.K. and in some U.S. states, initiatives like the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides and the U.K. CMA Green Claims Code signal this change and the need for further definitions and clarifications.

How brands and retailers can differentiate themselves from competitors

As consumers and regulators increasingly ask brands and retailers to prove their sustainability efforts and claims with third-party verification, what was once considered nice to have is now a must-have to remain relevant. One of the more popular sustainable shifts companies choose to make is to use more sustainable inputs, with recycled materials leading the charge. Helping to verify the traceability of the recycled materials in the apparel and textile industry is the Textile Exchange’s Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and the Recycled Content Standard (RCS).

The GRS and RCS certifications are international, voluntary, full product standards that set requirements for third-party certification of recycled content and chain of custody of claimed materials or products. Additionally, the GRS program verifies the social, environmental and chemical management practices involved in production, helping to ensure a more traceable, transparent and sustainable product. To provide complete traceability and security of claimed materials in the Textile Exchange programs, all partners in the supply chain need to be certified to the GRS or RCS program.

Certifying to the GRS and RCS programs with UL Verification Services Inc. is an easy six step process.

  1. Complete an application – Provide all the appropriate information, including the scope of production, product categories and facilities under the scope.
  2. Review and accept quote and timeline.
  3. Prepare documentation, review and schedule an audit.
  4. Site audit – Review of certification-related documents; review of volume and material tracking records; site tour and interviews with staff, including production staff and more.
  5. Certification decision.
  6. Scope certificate issued – Share your scope certificate with any customers that have requested your certification.

Once issued, a scope certificate verifies that a company is qualified to produce goods to a given standard for the goods they had certified. They are valid for one year and need to be renewed annually to maintain certification to the GRS or RCS programs.

The benefits of certifying to GRS

Brands and retailers who pursue certification benefit the stakeholders in their value chain and reduce the impacts of production on the environment and ecosystem.

Third-party certification to GRS allows companies to be recognized for their commitments to sustainable materials and helps to minimize risk across the value chain. Through chain of custody principles, brands and retailers manage risk by certifying the traceability and transparency of products and management systems.

Attaining certifications like GRS or similar UL Solutions services, can also help companies in meeting their commitments to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and/or corporate sustainability goals, including:


  • SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure.
  • SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production.
  • SDG 13 – Climate action.

Corporate sustainability goals

  • Sustainable materials.
  • Scope 3 reduction.
  • Supply chain traceability and transparency.
  • Social responsibility.

How we can help you with GRS certifications

UL Verification Services Inc. is an ANAB-accredited ISO/IEC 17065 certification body and approved by Textile Exchange to provide certification to Textile Exchange standards — Global Recycled Standard (GRS), Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) and Content Claim Standard (CCS). Thanks to this recognition and our third-party certification programs, we help major global retailers and brand owners avoid greenwashing and provide them with competitive differentiation in the marketplace.