SANE STANDARD is a set of requirements and characteristics that a product needs to fulfill to be certified SANE.
WHAT IS SANE
SANE standard is a set of requirements and characteristics that a product needs to fulfill to be certified SANE.
SANE certification guarantees the consumers the highest level of sustainability during the making of a product from the fiber to the sewing of the last button.
WHAT SUSTAINABILITY MEANS TO US
Sustainability does not have a universal and established definition. In fact, producing clothes or footwear will never be 100% sustainable, because it will always require the use of water and energy, along with other resources, and will inevitably generate some waste.
The baseline to set up SANE STANDARD has been to define the threshold under which a production process causes irrevocable damages to either the environment, the workers, or the consumers’ health.
Certified products must meet this threshold in all areas covered by our standard because we believe that it is not sane to only protect the planet while at the same time exploiting people or vice versa.
WHAT OUR STANDARD COVERS
Our requirements cover the life cycle phases of a product where the environmental or human impacts are the most harmful and where single brands or factories are required to implement more sustainable processing methods where technically feasible.
Our standard specifically focuses on the choice of low-impact fibers, the environmental footprint of the processing stages, the chemical content of final products, and the working conditions and remuneration of workers.
We have also based our standard on what would be achievable on a large scale for fashion brands. For this purpose, we have taken profitable and successful brands following the highest sustainable standards in the market as a benchmark.
Our standard is designed for products made and sold anywhere around the world.
The final certified products may be garments, fashion accessories, footwear, and home textiles. This list may be extended in the future.
Our certification is suitable for small, medium, and large companies from both a practical and financial point of view.
Certain requirements apply to the entire facility where a certified product is processed, whereas other criteria apply only to the specific product being certified. To ensure the credibility of our standard, production facilities need to be certified by an approved third-party auditor.
When local regulations in place have higher sustainability standards, those shall prevail, in other cases, SANE requirements should apply.
To avoid unnecessary duplication of audits, SANE recognizes and accepts selected credible existing standards.
It has taken 5 years of research and consultations with hundreds of the industry’s stakeholders to set our first standard version. This second version had been released following the learning of the first product certifications and numerous feedbacks from textile certification experts. Our standard will be reviewed on a regular basis in order to always meet the highest achievable level of sustainability.
Material choice accounts for up to two-thirds of a fashion brand’s environmental footprint1. The production of fibers can have severe impacts in terms of water, energy, and land use as well as air emissions and waste. Choosing sustainable fibers significantly reduces the environmental footprint of a product, which is why it is SANE’s first requirement.
To be certified, a minimum of 90% of the total weight of a product must be SANE Approved Material (including accessories).
SANE is mindful of the actual market reality and technical constraints. We understand that sometimes fibers need to be blended to add some elasticity, strength, or aesthetic component to a product.
Therefore, our standard allows the use of non-approved materials for up to 10% of the total weight of a product. Certain limitations on fibers listed in Section 1.2 of SANE STANDARD apply to the 10% of non-approved material.
CHEMICAL CONTENT, PRINTING, AND FINISHING PROCESSES
Chemicals are used almost in every step throughout the production of a garment and are often extremely harmful to the consumers, the workers, and the environment.
The substances listed in the ZDHC’s Manufacturing Restricted Substance List2 have been proven to be dangerous and shall not be used during the processing stages, including printing and finishing.
Wastewater from all wet processing facilities shall be treated before being released into the environment. When applicable, the local regulations shall be fulfilled. Where local requirements are lower, the limit values of the Foundational Level of ZDHC’s Wastewater Guidelines3 shall prevail.
Fair working conditions are a crucial part of the SANE concept, and we decided to take it one step further. Because decent working conditions only make a difference when the remuneration of the labor allows workers to fulfill their basic needs, our requirements not only imply the respect of the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions but it is also the first standard to impose the payment of a living wage to garment workers.
To be certified, a product must have been made in a production facility where:
- Workers are paid a living wage
- All workers are working under a legal contract
- No forced labour is used
- No child labour is used
- No discrimination or violence is used
- Freedom of association and right to collective bargaining are respected
- Working hours do not exceed ILO recommendations
- The working environment is safe and hygienic
The above requirements are further detailed in SANE STANDARD.
SANE requirements and certification process needs to be rigorous in order to be credible. The implication of key company personnel as well as the existence of suitable processes and documentation is a critical success factor and therefore part of SANE requirements.
SUPPLY CHAIN TRANSPARENCY
The lack of transparency and the complexity of the supply chain are often pointed out to be the major obstacles to improve the sustainability of the fashion industry.
Transparency is a key element of our certification process. Fashion brands willing to certify their products must know and be able to disclose to the auditors all contractors and sub-contractors involved in the production of an article.
Sub-contractors involved in the manufacturing of certified products shall comply with all SANE requirements and shall also be audited.
1 Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group (2018). Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018.
Certification processes are often unclear, expensive, and complicated. It can be discouraging for brands or production facilities to go through a certification process even for those already complying with all the requirements. For that reason, we put great effort into designing a certification process that would be comprehensible, fast, and inexpensive as possible. We believe that brands and manufacturers should not need to call upon certification experts in order to get a product certified by SANE.
SANE will help and support applicants to prepare for the certification process.
The steps to follow to get a product certified are as follows:
Fill in our free ONLINE QUESTIONNAIRE to check if your product is eligible. Alternatively, contact SANE at info[at]sane-standard.com in case of doubt.
The applicant shall send a CERTIFICATION REQUEST. SANE will send you our list of authorized third-party certifiers. The auditors will propose an audit plan.
Set up the audit with an authorized certifier. The audit can be on-site, virtual, or assessed by documentation depending on the product and facilities’ specificities.
Once the production unit is certified, products’ details and composition must be validated by SANE through its online platform and the Certification Hangtag fees shall be settled for a product to be fully certified.
Following the COVID-19 crisis and the travel and meeting restrictions, we have introduced a fully secured 100% digital audit option to our certification process.
For products made of material and produced in facilities that have already been audited or are certified by other approved standards, a simplified process may be sufficient.