Gain a foothold – CSR and sustainability in Turkey and China

14 August 2015

Corporate social responsibility and sustainability are intrinsic to current guidelines being implemented throughout the leather industry. In this report, SGS Softlines Services details the latest standards affecting footwear and its production in two influential countries that aim to improve the global reputation of leather. First stop Turkey, then on to China.

Following extensive testing by SGS Softlines Services, new labelling requirements on materials used in footwear components for sale to consumers in Turkey were recently published and immediately implemented.

This regulation, number 29337, is in compliance with the European Legislation Directive 94/11/EC, and a variety of types of footwear presented for the purpose of retail sales to consumers by the distributor is included. The regulation excludes used or worn shoes, protective footwear covered by the Personal Protective Equipment Regulation, and toy shoes.

Textile material identification on shoe labels

Detailing the regulation, footwear must be labelled with information relating to material content of the upper, the lining and insole sock, and the outer sole of the footwear article. The label must also be legible, firmly secured and accessible, and a permanent label must appear on at least one article of footwear in each pair. Also, the information must be conveyed by means of approved pictograms or text, and information provided on labels cannot be misleading to the consumers.

The footwear label must provide information about the material, which constitutes at least 80% of the surface area of upper, and the lining and insole sock, and at least 80% of the volume of the outer sole. If no single material accounts for at least 80%, information must be given on the two main materials used in the composition of the footwear. The size of label must be legible and visible, and placed on the product in the area where the manufacturer deems appropriate.

The Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade is responsible for market surveillance to check footwear products for compliance to the 'Market Surveillance and Inspection Regulation' published in the Turkish Official Journal in June last year.

Chinese regulations

Farther east, a new water pollutant discharge standard for the Chinese textile industry, which has strong implications for the leather industry as well, is used to implement the law and regulation, protect the environment, prevent pollution and improve the production of dyeing and finishing in the textile industry, and improve pollution control technology.

"The label must also be legible, firmly secured and accessible, and a permanent label must appear on at least one article of footwear in each pair."

China's water pollution has been on the rise due to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation.

Although great efforts have been taken to keep wastewater discharge standards in pace with water pollution development and technological advances, many challenges remain.

The textile and footwear industries consume high amounts of water and also threaten the water quality in China. The latest discharge standard, GB 4287-2012, serves as a way to enforce China's Environmental Protection Law, and to encourage the improvement of production methods used in the textile dyeing and finishing industry, and the improvement of pollution control technology.

The standard also covers the discharge limits, the requirements for monitoring and controlling for water pollutants in the textile dyeing and finishing industry or production facility.

Background check

SGS Global Softlines has a network of over 40 laboratories worldwide, with a team of committed professionals. Internationally accredited state-of-the-art testing laboratories offer a comprehensive range of physical, chemical and functional testing services for components, raw materials and finished products.

Current regulations on water pollutants

The respective industries should follow the requirements for the pollution discharge and control in the standard, and adapt necessary measures to ensure normal operation of the pollution control systems:

  • from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2014, current factories should have been meeting the agreed discharge limits for water pollutants
  • starting on 1 January 2015, current factories should meet updated discharge limits.
  • all new factories opening on 1 January 2013 or later should meet the updated discharge limits
  • the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) of the People's Republic of China released a modification list for the existing GB 4287-2012 at the end of March and the list went into effect immediately after publication
  • another announcement from MEP about GB 4287-2012 was issued in mid-June, and according to the public announcement, the requirements for anilines and chromium VI in GB 4287-2012 are temporarily suspended
  • for factories located in areas with low environmental capacity or with vulnerable ecologies that require special protection measures, the discharge limit is further tightened as stipulated in the standard.

Established water-quality criteria

  • Limit value and discharge quantity of water pollutant discharge concentration for current factories (January 2013 - December 2014).
  • Limit value and discharge quantity of water pollutant discharge concentration for current factories (January 2015 - present) and in new factories from January 2013.

Further discharge standards of water pollutants

In addition to GB 4287-2012, there are other environmental regulations in China that are relevant to the textile and leather industries:

  • GB 28936-2012: Discharge Standards of Water Pollutants for the Silk Reeling Industry
  • GB 28937-2012: Discharge Standards of Water Pollutants in the Woolen Textile Industry
  • GB 28938-2012: Discharge Standards of Water Pollutants in the Bast and Leaf Fibers
  • GB 30486-2013: Discharge Standard of Water Pollutants for Leather and Fur Making Industry
  • GB 21901-2008: Discharge Standard of Water Pollutants for Down Industry
  • GB 21902-2008: Emission Standard of Pollutants for Synthetic Leather and Artificial Leather Industry.

All shoes under the new standard must be clearly labelled.
The footwear label must contain all relevant information under the new standard introduced in Turkey.

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