The North Face, H&M, Eddie Bauer and several other leading international fashion, bedding and outdoor brands have adopted 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.
Created by the nonprofit, Textile Exchange, the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) strives 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 has committed to 100 percent certified and responsibly sourced down across all product lines by 2017.
Marmot, Mammut, Helly Hansen, Outdoor Research, DownLinens and Down & Feather Co. also adopted the down scheme.
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.
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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. 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.
In late 2012, The North Face partnered 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.