"It’s exciting to see that the collective use of the RDS across
the industry is effectively promoting positive animal welfare
conditions and traceability in the down supply chain at such a large scale."
-James Rogers, Senior Sustainability Manager
We are committed to improving animal welfare and traceability in our
goose down and feather supply chain. We use down in our outerwear,
sleeping bags, footwear, and accessories because of its superior
insulating properties and warmth-to-weight ratio. In 2014 we launched
the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) in partnership
with Textile Exchange, a global nonprofit dedicated to sustainability
in the apparel and textile industry, and Control Union Certifications,
an accredited third-party certification body with expertise in
agriculture and farm systems. The RDS ensures that our down does not
come from animals that have been subjected to any unnecessary harm,
such as force-feeding or live-plucking, provides traceability in our
supply chain, and helps validate and track the down used in our
products from farm to finished garment. We have been using certified
down since Fall 2015 and in Fall 2016 100% of our retail and wholesale
down products will be certified to the RDS.
The RDS has gained great momentum and adoption across the supply
chain. In 2015 over 40 brands had initiated certification of their
supply chains to the RDS and over 900 sites were certified in Europe,
North America, and Asia, covering an estimated 150 million birds at
the farm level. Additionally, around 240 processors, garment
factories, and trading units were certified.
The North Face Down Supply Chain
Each step of our down supply chain before our products reach our
customers is audited and certified to the Responsible Down Standard.
Additionally, each time ownership of the ducks and geese or down
material changes hands, a transaction certificate, or document from
our certification organization verifying conformity to the RDS is issued.
History of the Responsible Down Standard
A couple of years ago we became aware of the potential mistreatment
of animals in the food supply chain from which we sourced our down. We
had been relying on self-declarations from our suppliers but it became
clear that this was not sufficient. The down supply chain is very
complex and the animals and raw materials typically change hands many
times, making traceability difficult. Due to this complexity, when we
developed the RDS we sought input from experts in animal welfare,
standard development, and materials traceability. A team from The
North Face traveled to China and Eastern Europe to evaluate our supply
chains in those regions. Because down can be sourced from small farms
as well as large slaughterhouses, the team evaluated everything from
hatcheries to family farms to processing facilities.
We tapped the expertise of two key partners, Control Union
Certifications and Textile Exchange, to develop a standard that
addresses the down supply’s diverse challenges. After it was complete
we gifted ownership of the RDS to Textile Exchange, thus opening it up
for use by any organization in any industry.
our previous post on The North Face Goose Down