The North Face developed the standard in partnership with Control Union, a respected global certification body, and Textile Exchange for research, writing, and stakeholder review. Adam Mott, Senior Manager of Corporate Sustainability, The North Face says “Our hope is that the collective use of the standard will effectively promote positive animal welfare conditions and traceability in the down supply chain at a much larger scale than we could accomplish by ourselves.”
The RDS addresses the critical issues of live-plucking and force-feeding of geese, in addition to other strict animal welfare requirements. The chain of custody of the certified down is backed up by TE’s Content Claim Standard.
The range in down supply chain structures made it a challenge to create an effective standard, but the RDS balances rigor with flexibility, and allows for wide-scale adoption. Down for the outdoor industry is primarily sourced in Eastern Europe and China and can come from large scale industrialized farms or from informal collection systems that draw from small scale farms, including families raising just a few geese for their own use.
The standard development included robust stakeholder engagement, with input from supply chain members, farmers, animal welfare organizations, and industry experts. TE will be initiating a second input period as part of the review process, in order to collect real-use feedback from the field, as well as from additional industry stakeholders. The rapid review process will be complete in the next 6-12 months. As stewards of the RDS, TE will continue to evolve the standard based on future developments and as adoption grows.
The RDS is open for use by any company, effective immediately. Currently Control Union is the only certification body licensed to certify against the standard, but TE plans to set accreditation requirements to open the standard to other certification bodies.
Textile Exchange also wants to recognize the efforts and commitment of Patagonia with the Traceable Down Standard that they developed in November 2013. They have already converted a full line of products to their Traceable down, with the plan to transition all of the down by Fall 2014. Patagonia’s standard offers a means to verify that down is sourced from animals that have not been harmed. TE’s Content Claim Standard is also being used to ensure chain of custody with this standard.
About Textile Exchange
Textile Exchange is a non-profit dedicated to accelerating sustainable practices in the textile industry. TE envisions a textile industry that protects and restores the environment and enhances lives.
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