Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Fabric mills get new audit

April 2009

A global auditing company is offering a new ethical qualification for fabric factories.

Intertek’s Mill Qualification Programme enables fabric mills, which produce materials for the fashion industry, to gain certification against various social and environmental criteria.

The mills or their customers can approach Intertek to conduct inspections. The initiative will provide an assessment of a mill’s capability in areas such as health and safety, working conditions, waste and water management, and overall quality of goods.

The resulting reports, containing guidance on how certain areas could be improved, can then be accessed securely online by customers that have signed up to the programme. The information will not be shared with other mills.

Intertek says the process will eliminate duplication of effort among customers of mills and the mills themselves, as one inspection, typically taking four weeks, will serve for any number of clients.

In some respects the programme mirrors the wider-reaching Sedex project, which shares social auditing information among participating brands on a global basis and does not merely focus on fabrics.

Last year the US-based non-profit body Fair Factories Clearinghouse also set up a ‘sharing platform’ venture with similar aims in the clothing sector (EP9, issue 8, p6).

However, the Intertek programme is more specialized and will cover the typical stages of textile mill production from fibre processing and spinning to yarn preparation, fabric production, bleaching, dyeing and printing and finishing.  

UK-based Intertek, which has offices in 110 countries, says there are ‘many thousands’ of fabric mills around the world and it is targeting all of them, not just those in the developing world. The programme has been developed by a working group of multinational retailers, brands, fabric mills and ‘sustainability professionals’, although Intertek is not yet revealing who has been involved.

As well as individual evaluation reports for every inspected mill, standard scores will be stored in an online registry so that retailers and brands can compare the performance of mills in various areas.

Intertek provides general testing and inspection services to the corporate world, but also specialises in social auditing.

Intertek | Global | Certification

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