Brandix Textiles, Sri Lanka's largest woven fabric mill, has got Fairtrade and organic certifications from the Institute for Marketecology (IMO) of Switzerland.

It is the first woven textile mill in Sri Lanka to be Fairtrade certified.

"They [the certifications] take the company to the next level in supplying very discerning niche customers and are also a valuable third party affirmation of the commitment of the company to good social practices" said Brandix director Feroz Omar.

The Fairtrade certification from IMO covers core labour rights, working conditions, administration of the Fairtrade premium, and accountability as a trade partner. The Brandix mill scored 214 points at the Fairtrade audit, well above the required 172 points.

The company said that the Fairtrade and organic certifications are part of a move to qualify for Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The GOTS certification is an international certification for organic textiles. It covers the production, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, export, import and distribution of all natural fibres.

GOTS ensures that textiles are genuinely organic from the point of harvesting raw materials to the point of labelling, and Brandix is hoping to use the string of certifications to expand markets for organic clothing.

Although organic certified fabrics are more expensive, brands like Next, Marks & Spencer, Nike, Woolworth, H&M, Target and Wal-Mart have all shown they are ready to support global organic initiatives.

Brandix Textiles produces about 3.5m yards of woven fabric in about 400 constructions and weaves, per month, from greige fabric imported from Pakistan, Indonesia, India and China.

About 40% of the output is used by apparel manufacturing units of the Brandix group, while the balance is sold locally and also exported to Bangladesh and India.

In February this year, weft knit fabric manufacturer Ocean Lanka also announced Fairtrade accreditation from certification body FLO-Cert GmbH.

By Dilshani Samaraweera.