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Our Standard

In drafting The Good Cashmere Standard, the Aid by Trade Foundation has defined a new benchmark for the production of sustainable cashmere. Following a comprehensive revision, the standard is now based on the Five Domains of Animal Welfare model, which was developed by Mellor and Reid. The Good Cashmere Standard follows three main principles: promote animal welfare in cashmere production, support cashmere herders and protect the environment.

Standard & System

The Good Cashmere Standard has been revised to Version 2.0, its latest, and places greater emphasis on animal welfare in cashmere production. The implementation of The Good Cashmere Standard 2.0 and its criteria will be mandatory as of 2025 and will be monitored through independent verifications at regular intervals.

Criteria and Principles

The Good Cashmere Standard® 2.0 is built on four pillars that encompass the key aspects of sustainable cashmere production: cashmere goat welfare, the environment, people, and management. With these pillars and the accompanying criteria, GCS is effectively and comprehensively moving cashmere production towards greater sustainability, both at the farms with and without employees and in the first stage of processing cashmere fibres, which takes place at buying and dehairing stations.

The largest chapter of The Good Cashmere Standard® covers animal welfare and was designed on the basis of the Five Freedoms as defined by the Farm Animal Welfare Council. As part of the revision of the standard released beginning of 2024, the animal welfare chapter was fundamentally revised and is now based on the scientifically up-to-date Five Domains Model, which was developed by Mellor et al. More than 150 indicators set clear guidelines for nutrition, keeping and handling, shearing and health management of the animals, among other things. Beyond its focus on animal welfare, the standard’s revision also addresses three other pillars: people, management, and the environment. It provides clear guidelines for protecting biodiversity and land through land management, achieving dignified labour conditions for all people involved in cashmere fibre production, and ensuring compliance with responsible business practices, the verification process, and GCS values.

The Standard defines core criteria that must be met from the start in order to be a part of the GCS herder group or to be verified as a cashmere producer as well as major and basic criteria.

Independent auditors conduct regular checks to assess the fulfilment of criteria and document the progress made, using a sample-based approach.

Audits and Certification

To ensure the reliability of The Good Cashmere Standard® and the correct implementation of its criteria and indicators, independent audits verify regularly whether cashmere herders and producers (buying stations/dehairing stations) comply with the criteria set out in the standard. The verification is awarded to producers who themselves, as well as their herder group, work in accordance with The Good Cashmere Standard®. They receive a certificate which is valid for 12 months and are allowed to sell their products under The Good Cashmere Standard® seal.

In addition to the external audits by independent third parties, all herders must outline their performance in a self-assessment questionnaire to assess how they have complied with the standard’s criteria. The answers in the self-reports are the basis for the external verification visits on the farms. In the event of implausible or contradicting answers, the independent audit company will follow up and clarify the matter. Should a farm, buying station or dehairing station fail to fulfil the core standard indicators (Prohibition of cruelty to animals, child labour, forced labour and pesticides), it will be excluded from participating in The Good Cashmere Standard® and cannot sell their cashmere with the GCS label anymore. They are removed from the dedicated supply chain. If other indicator types are violated, either the non-conformity must be eliminated (major) or a clearly defined improvement plan must be processed (basic). Only when this process has been successfully completed, will the cashmere producer receive The Good Cashmere Standard® certificate, which is valid for one year.

Goats

The Goat Welfare Pillar is the heart of the The Good Cashmere standard and is based on the Five Domains of Animal Welfare model, which emphasises the importance of positive subjective experiences for animals. Understanding the well-being of goats involves considering five fundamental domains: nutrition, environment, health, behaviour, and mental state.

The Good Cashmere Standard contains clear and comprehensive criteria regarding:

  • feed, water and nutrition
  • the living environment and space requirements
  • transport and isolation of individual goats from the herd
  • fitness and health management
  • physical alterations
  • breeding and kid management
  • slaughter and euthanasia
  • handling
  • combing and shearing

The Good Cashmere Standard® can go a long way to making a significant improvement to the welfare of cashmere goats. For more detailed information regarding the standard, please click this link.

Herders

The criteria contained in The Good Cashmere Standard extend beyond the comprehensive criteria that relate to goat welfare. The standard also includes criteria regarding the planning of animal welfare maintenance and the recording of the resulting outcomes.

Herders must ensure that persons who work with goats are trained and competent enough to do so. Additionally, it requires that goat farming activities protect the land and do not cause pollution.In addition, herders must co-exist with wildlife and not negatively impact biodiversity on and around the areas they manage. Above that, the standard defines social criteria for farms with temporary,permanent or without workers. These criteria govern issues such as the rights of children and workers, gender equality, correct payment as well as health and safety. Herders must also adhere to stipulations regarding management criteria and audits. By working side by side with cashmere herders we aim to achieve wide-ranging, significant and continuous improvements to an animal-friendly and ethically responsible cashmere production.

Environment

The protection of the environment in which cashmere goats, herders and herder communities live is one of the central aims of The Good Cashmere Standard®. One of its key principles in this regard is that goat keeping should have no negative impact on the environment, especially on the land and biodiversity.

The standard also contains criteria regarding the responsible use of fertilisers and pesticides, which define when and how it is appropriate to deploy them. The Standard additionally stipulates that herders co-exist with wildlife and restrain from negatively impacting biodiversity on and around the areas that they manage. That includes their farms and grasslands as well as arable lands.

Downloads

For more detailed information regarding the Standard and beyond, please take a look at the documents down below.

The Good Cashmere Standard 2.0
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The Good Cashmere Standard 1.2
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Chain of Custody Guidelines
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Verification Governance
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    Theory of Change
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    Registered Spinners
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    Code of Conduct
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    List of Prohibited Pesticides
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    GCS Appeals Committee Guidelines
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    GCS Appeals Procedure
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    GCS Appeals Submission Form
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    GCS Complaints Policy and Procedure
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    Standard Setting and Revision Procedure
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    “The Good Cashmere Standard has been created in close cooperation and dialogue with experts along the textile supply chain. It serves as a benchmark for sustainably produced cashmere and aims to minimize the impact on animals and nature.”
    Anna Heaton – independent consultant for the Aid by Trade Foundation and international expert in standards for animal welfare

    Region

    Cashmere goats are farmed in a number of countries and regions throughout the world. The initial focus of The Good Cashmere Standard® is on the cashmere farms of Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of northern China. Inner Mongolia has a population of around 25 million inhabitants and a total area of 1.18 million square kilometres.

    The region is China’s leading producer of cashmere, accounting for around 6,600 tonnes of global cashmere in 2018, representing 26% of the world’s cashmere production. Sheep and goat farming in Inner Mongolia have increased substantially in recent decades and this has led to widespread degradation of the grasslands that make up 67 % of Inner Mongolia’s land area. This degradation has not only affected cashmere farms, but has also had a significant ecological and environmental impact, such as an increase of desertification and a decrease in biodiversity. The Chinese government has recognised the problem and has responded by introducing goat-grazing bans and extensive reforestation programmes. By encouraging sustainable farming practices and promoting the uptake of sustainably produced cashmere we aim to help herders in Inner Mongolia secure animal welfare and protect the region in which they live and work.

    Partners

    Get in touch with us
    E-mail address: gcs@abt-foundation.org Telephone: 040 – 25 76 755 – 0