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October 21, 2014 – Textile Exchange, a global nonprofit dedicated to sustainability in the apparel and textile industry, today announced that H&M, Eddie Bauer, The North Face, Marmot, Mammut, Helly Hansen, Outdoor Research, DownLinens, Down & Feather Co. and other leading international fashion, bedding and outdoor brands have adopted its Responsible Down Standard (RDS) – a third-party certification standard that can be applied to any waterfowl-based supply chain to help ensure humane treatment of animals from gosling to end product. The goal of the RDS is to enable traceability and change the down industry as a whole, not just one brand’s supply chain. Certain brands have committed to introducing certified down into their products beginning as soon as Fall 2015, and The North Face, in particular, has committed to 100 percent certified and responsibly sourced down across all product lines by 2017.
Officially launched in January 2014, the RDS is the most comprehensive, global, third-party certified animal welfare and traceability standard for down and feathers available for use by any company. Down, which comes from geese and ducks that are grown primarily for the food industry, remains one of the highest-quality, best performing materials for use in apparel, bedding and home goods. Due to the attention given by animal welfare groups to issues such as live-plucking and force-feeding, in late 2012, The North Face combined forces with Textile Exchange and Control Union Certifications, an accredited third-party certification body, to design and implement the RDS across primary sourcing regions in Europe and Asia, and in U.S. processing sites. This included working closely with leading suppliers Allied Feather & Down and Downlite to analyze and certify every step of the down supply chain.
Upon completion of the standard, The North Face gifted it to Textile Exchange to administer and evolve the standard as needed with the hope of engaging more brands and down suppliers to begin to implement the RDS.
“I am proud of the effort that went into the development of the RDS,” said Anne Gillespie, Director of Industry Integrity, Textile Exchange. “We did extensive research, including visiting the sourcing regions in remote areas of Europe and Asia to fully understand the conditions we had to address, and worked with a diverse set of stakeholders that gave us a broad perspective of the issues. As more brands adopt the RDS, it will bring improved animal welfare conditions and better traceability in the down supply chain at a much larger scale than any one organization or one supply chain could accomplish alone.”
In addition to governing the standard, Textile Exchange is also evolving it through a stakeholder feedback process that includes input from brands and NGOs such as the European Outdoor Group and Outdoor Industry Association, and animal protection organization FOUR PAWS.
“By committing to higher traceability through the RDS, brands are taking more responsibility for animal welfare in their down supply chains. FOUR PAWS is pleased that brands can provide higher assurances that the cruel practices of live-plucking and force-feeding are avoided at the geese and duck farms where they source their down. We are encouraged about the evolution of the RDS into a standard with stronger safeguards for animal welfare and hope that eventually all brands that use down will make strong traceability a priority,” said Nina Jamal, International Farm Animals Campaigner at FOUR PAWS.
Down and feathers are traditionally sourced from waterfowl already earmarked for the food supply, however, there is an inevitable risk of animal welfare issues with the use of farm animals for industrial purposes. The primary mandate of the RDS is to prevent practices such as force-feeding and live-plucking as well as provide strict approvals on issues such as food and water quality, housing, stock density and outdoor access, animal health, hygiene and pest and predator control, among others.
"Allied has been fully committed to supporting Textile Exchange throughout the development of this comprehensive standard, from the conceptual stages, to sharing our procuring and sourcing practices, to having our global supply chain and processing facilities audited and certified. We will remain committed to the RDS as a leading supplier of RDS-certified down and educator on responsible sourcing," said Daniel Uretsky, President of Allied Feather & Down. "We are proud to see the standard come to fruition and of the enthusiasm of our partners and industry stakeholders who are the earliest adopters. We encourage anyone who uses down to consider the importance of adopting RDS-certified down.”
“We are incredibly excited to see the adoption of the RDS across industry and competitive boundaries. The brands adopting the RDS today are helping lead the charge to transform the down supply chain in an entirely new way,” said Adam Mott, Director of Sustainability, The North Face. “When we set out to develop the RDS, we knew that in order to truly succeed we had to create something that was global, open and adaptable. Today we are seeing the realization of this vision – yet it is only the beginning. We welcome other brands to join in the commitment to source more responsible down.”
About Textile Exchange
Textile Exchange is a membership-based non-profit dedicated to accelerating sustainable practices in the textile industry. We envision a textile industry that protects and restores the environment and enhances lives. The Industry Integrity team’s work in standards and certification is foundational to the work of Textile Exchange. Other TE standards include the Content Claim Standard, Organic Content Standard, Recycled Claim Standard and Global Recycled Standard.