What is the difference between GRS and RCS?

What is the difference between GRS and RCS?

clock-circular-outline Posted 4 Aug 2022



With a greater drive for sustainability in business and society comes increased appetite to understand where products come from, how they are made, and what impact their manufacture has in the wider context of people and planet.

Nick Grinnell explores the difference between GRS and RCS in workwear standards, and explains why both offer employers peace of mind…


What is the difference between GRS and RCS?

GRS (the Global Recycled Standard) and RCS (the Recycled Claim Standard) are both globally-recognised voluntary standards in recycled clothing. By providing independent third-party certification of recycled input and chain of custody, they both offer proof that claims made by manufacturers around items being made from recycled materials are genuine and verifiable.

GRS is the more rigorous standard, requiring a minimum of 50% recycled content and including additional criteria around social and environmental processing, and chemical restrictions.


GRS and RCS: the basics

Both GRS and RCS aim to encourage the use of recycled materials in product manufacture by providing established definitions and benchmarks, offering independent verification of recycled content, and delivering customers the information they need to make informed decisions.

If a product displays either the GRS or RCS logo, businesses can be certain they are buying something with credible certification from a professional third-party that has audited each stage in the supply chain to ensure:

  • Materials used meet the ISO definition of ‘recycled’; and
  • The identity of the recycled material is maintained from the recycler to the final product.


GRS: the Global Recycled Standard

The GRS goes further, verifying that:

  • No chemicals have been used in the processing or manufacture of the product that may be harmful to people or the environment; and
  • The product has been produced sustainably, with all sites involved in its manufacture meeting strict social and environmental requirements.


For more information on the Global Recycled Standard (GRS), read our blog dedicated to this topic.


RCS: the Recycled Claim Standard

The RCS is used to certify any product containing at least 5% recycled material. Requiring businesses to adhere to the same chain of custody requirements over this recycled content as the GRS, it offers similar reassurances of the legitimacy of claims made about a product’s environmentally-friendly credentials.

Each stage of production of a qualifying product must be certified, from point of recycling to the end seller.


GRS or RCS: which is best?

Both the GRS and the RCS offer purchasers peace of mind that they are buying a product made from genuine recycled materials.

Although GRS is the more detailed and rigorous standard, it is not always possible – with the best will in the world – for products to achieve it. This is particularly the case with workwear and PPE, where performance and durability are key.

At iSB Group, we work with some of the world’s leading manufacturers – businesses that are in constant pursuit of innovation in product design. The advances in fabric technology that we have seen over the past decade or more have been phenomenal, but there remains more to learn. There are some areas where increasing the percentage of recycled content in a product would lead to unacceptable compromises in product comfort, dexterity or durability – and this simply isn’t a trade-off either we or our suppliers are prepared to make.

Having said that, no one is resting on their laurels. Achieving the RCS for its products shows a company’s commitment to sustainable innovation, and you can bet your bottom dollar that those who achieve it won’t be settling for the minimum standards, but will be doing everything they can to lessen their impact on the world around them – now and in the future.


Find out more: Read our guide to switching to sustainable workwear and PPE.





By Nick Grinnell

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