Reacher Apparels is an Indian company with 15 years of experience in the industry. Care for the environment and their employees is their priority. That is why they keep on developing and they put their bet not only organic cotton with GOTS certification, but also applied for the Fairtrade certificate for the company! We talked to Dhana from Reacher Apparels and we would like to invite you to have a look behind the scenes with us! Let's find out what it in practice means that a company is Fairtrade certified.
You are a Fairtrade and GOTS certified clothes producer. Would you mind to tell us what it exactly means? What is the difference between a „regular” clothes producer and a Fairtrade certificated one?
Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. Requiring from companies to pay sustainable prices (Which must never fall lower than the market price), Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. It enables them to improve their position and have more control over their lives.
Why did you decide to apply for the Fairtrade certificate?
Actually we are much interested in chemical free / Environmental friendly garment production and the same time some of our customers started to talk about organic cotton. So, we decided to get GOTS certificate, immediately implemented it and started to supply the GOTS certified garments. Later we came to know about the fairtrade through our GOTS customers. Then we applied for Fairtrade too. That's how, day by day, thanks to our experience with the sustainable products and our customers, we have been implementing new systems, plans and certifications in our factories!
What difficulties did you encounter in the process of certification?
Actually we didn’t faced any difficulties to get the certification. Even before the certification, we have adopted all our process according to the local law. So, the certifications requirements went hand in hand with our regular practice and everything as we had everything documented, it was not so difficulty!
Why it is important to be a certified clothes producer?
Normally the awareness about the environment care is a big talk in every industry. We also cared about the best harmless to environment practices. So, as a cloth manufacturer, we have checked all the best possible practices and came to the conclusion, that getting certificate is the best way to be an environmental friendly business operator. That is why we think it is important to be certified!
What Fairtade guidelines do you follow? How can a client know you are transparent?
We are providing the complete supply chain details with Flo-ID’s to our valuable customers whenever they ask for it. We frequently visit our supply chains to see in a person that all the production steps are according to our requirement. We also have GOTS Transaction Certificates from our Supply chain. We issue the Transaction Certificate to our customers which ensures that our products are according to GOTS Standard
Apart from the Transaction Certificates, we take random samples from our various productions and we do Residual/Chemical Tests according to GOTS & Okeo Tex Standards to double check if our products meets the requirement. Our trims come from Okeo-Tex certified vendors only.
On top of that we pride ourselves on our Hangtags produced from GRS certified re-cycled cotton. We use Bio-Degradable/Compostable Polybags for our packing
Other important solution is connected to the equipment. Our sewing machines are new and consume less energy. We have an individual ETP plant for our printing so we can process the waste water and re-use upto 90% for screen washing or cleaning.
How often do you have audits and what is verified?
Our factories are audited once a year by GOTS and once by Fairtrade. So, yearly 2 audits are performed in our factories. And at the time of audit, the auditors check below mentioned issues:
1. Workers personal file,
3. Working hours
4. Payment details
5. ESI & PF records
6. Legal requirements like Building stability, sanitary, Fire certificates
7. First aid, Firefighting & emergency evacuation training records,
8. Committee records
9. Training records like usage of PPE, water and energy efficiency…etc
10. Production records of randomly selected orders from Purchase order to shipping documents and ensure everything is produced in approved supply chain
11. ETP Records from our Dyeing and Printing Units…etc
What kind of social programs are you currently performing?
To guarantee social sustainability in our company, we provide our employees with Safe and Hygienic Work Conditions. Recruitment is done is without any discrimination practice and there no excessive working hours. We also periodically provide our employees with Health & Safety, Environmental Training to make sure that they have even more decent work conditions.
Besides, we are happy to say that we also have following projects:
1. EYE Camp
We offer Free Eye camp to all our employees and if necessary, we provide them free medical support related to eye problems which includes surgery, eye glasses and medicines according to the doctors` recommendation
We contribute to medical insurance which is run by Indian Government called ESI. With this insurance our employees and their family get free medical treatment for any kind of disease.
We contribute to pension insurance PF. All our employees are covered with PF. This is to get the pension for the employees after their retirement age. This benefit is directly credited to our employees` account.
4. Living Wages
We pay living wages to our employees that are higher than the minimum wages of industrial bench mark described in Indian Labour law.
We also extend our helping hands towards the society whenever needed during natural calamities by, for example, arranging food and essential things for communities affected with floods or storm.
What are your plans for the future?
Actually our plan for 2020 is to switch 100% of our production into sustainable materials. At present we proudly say that we are at around 80%. 20% of our production is with conventional materials to provide stability of employment to our workers. So, our goal is to switch this 20% orders for sustainable materials, to make Reacher Apparels a 100% sustainable garment producer.
Are there any words of encouragement that you would like to send to the companies that consider applying for Fairtrade certificate?
It would be good to leave this Earth to the coming generations in better conditions as it is than now. We have to run our businesses in more ecological way. However we do our best, we have to ensure the things are right. And act as a certified manufacturer. Do the best you can and aim for certified standards.