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Criticism of the green button: What is the further development?

Criticism of the green button What is the further development doing

The Green Button is a state seal of quality that was approved by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) at the beginning of September 2019. It aims to certify companies that comply with over 40 different environmental and social standards in the field of textile production and thus comply with their corporate due diligence in the associated matters. The problem with it: At the time of its market launch, the seal appeared to be a benevolent attempt that did not go far enough in all respects.

What was the criticism of the green button?

Anyone looking for a Shirt for men can be based on various seals such as the GOTS, the VN-Best or the Made-in-Green seal. This remained in the already discussed by Criticism From different sides - including the "campaign for clean clothes" and "Terre des Hommes" - the question is open as to whether another seal makes sense at all and whether the green button represents an additional enrichment of the existing system.

This consideration was raised, among other things, by the fact that certification with the Green Button 2019 stipulated compliance with statutory minimum wages - but not that these also had to have guaranteed a livelihood at the same time.

In addition, several NGOs criticized the fact that many companies gave employees little or no opportunity to lodge complaints and did not have to do so immediately. The same applied to specific information related to the individual manufacturers regarding the human rights risks in the entire supply chain - including with regard to gender-specific violence, especially against women or a lack of freedom of association.

In 2019, companies producing in the EU also did not have to prove that they had complied with minimum social and ecological standards. A problematic circumstance insofar as conditions prevail in the textile industry in some south-eastern European countries that can certainly be compared with those in south-eastern Asia.

And - last but not least, a very massive point of criticism: In the start version of the Green Button from 2019, only controls of the production steps 'sewing and cutting' as well as 'dyeing and bleaching' were provided...

How did the BMZ react to this?

The BMZ has now responded to these criticisms by revising the Green Button. This took place over the last few years and was based on the elaborations of an independent expert advisory board and the suggestions of business, civil society and other standard-setting actors. This process has now been completed and now includes the Green button 2.0 various changes that can be viewed in a 69-page PDF from June 2022 on the Green Button website. This means, among other things, that certifications are only carried out if the entire supply chain is subjected to a risk analysis. This includes extending the controls to other work steps. Among other things, it is now being checked whether

  • the materials of the products to be manufactured are fibers and other materials from sustainable agriculture and humane husbandry and
  • whether the wages paid correspond not only to the minimum wage, but also to a living wage.

The head of the Grüner Knopf office, Ulrich Plein, sees the Grüner Knopf project and its revision as a fundamental success - especially after the revision as part of the Grüner Knopf 2.0 project. In his opinion, this is partly due to the fact that the first company audits according to the new system would be carried out from August 2022 and by July 2023 all companies would be evaluated according to this principle.

What is to be held?

What at first sounds like additional pioneering work is in no small part the result of legal regulations. Of course, the Green Button is also committed to them. The Supply Chain Due Diligence Act passed by the German Bundestag on June 25, 2021 (which many critics also describe as not far-reaching enough) should be mentioned in particular. It aims to expand human rights protection in global supply chains and make it more binding. According to the law, this will affect all companies with more than 2023 employees from 3.000 and all companies with more than 2024 employees from 1.000. However, its effectiveness has yet to be proven in daily practice. If gaps continue to appear, further improvements will probably be necessary - both in relation to the law and the Green Button. 

Photo / Video: Photo by Parker Burchfield on Unsplash.

Written by Tommi

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