Germany this week launched an alliance of industry groups to work towards concrete improvements in social and environmental standards in the textile and apparel industry - but has faced refusals to join by some organisations.

The Textile Alliance comprises industry associations, importers and NGOs. Its goal is to help move the international textile supply chain toward better labour and environmental practices.

At the launch in Berlin, Development Minister Dr Gerd Müller said he wants to see an improvement across the supply chain, from production processes and the working/living conditions of workers, to wages and forced labour and child labour.

Currently, though, only 30 medium-sized companies have signed up, including outdoor brand Vaude, and Hessnatur.

Membership in the alliance is voluntary, but reports have suggested that many key industry players and associations in Germany have given notice that they will not join.

According to online publication DW.de, The Confederation of the German Textile and Fashion Industry, GermanFashion (an association of fashion retailers) and AVE (the German association of importing retailers), are unwilling to participate since some of the objectives are not thought to be achievable.

Nonetheless, Müller, said: "Our alliance of fairness development policy is a concrete case. I respect the attitude of different organisations and companies that want to have more time to decide whether you want to join the Textile Alliance. Our doors are open at any time to participate in the process and to join the alliance.

He added: "I am very confident we will quickly gain many more participants because no responsible company will be able to deny the right to life, to exclude in its supply chain environmental and social dumping and child labour. Consumers have a right to insist that we work together to achieve improvements here and more transparency in the buying decisions made."