In an effort to nullify that concern, says The North Face, it has now created a Responsible Down Standard that addresses animal welfare issues and traceability in the down supply chain.According to North Face, the company now contracts with Control Union Certifications, a third-party certification agency that specializes in a wide spectrum of certifications, including animal welfare standards. Its head offices are in the Netherlands, although its clients span the globe, from timber companies in the UK and tea merchants in India, to agricultural suppliers in Israel.
The North Face also interfaces with Textile Exchange, a 501c3 non-profit organization committed to sustainable textile production methods.Like Patagonia, The North Face appears to have invested considerable resources inspecting prospective suppliers at all levels of the supply chain in Eastern Europe and Asia, with follow-up interviews and documentation reviews to better understand their processes. The latter is important if The North Face wants to ensure that its supply chain remains transparent and accurate. The clothing retailer is also making an effort to share information with animal welfare groups, retailers and other interested parties. It seems to me that this step (also implemented by Patagonia) is what is really effective in making real changes to industry expectations and standards.
The North Face plans to implement its new down standard in 2014 and at that time, will enlist Control Union to conduct a full-scale application of the standard across the company's supply chain. This will include onsite audits at every level of the supply chain from hatchery through to garment manufacturing and will result in down that is formally certified and traceable against the requirements of the Responsible Down Standard. By driving positive change across the global supply chain, this standard will also benefit the industry at large. The North Face, which has also made its international reputation on high-quality outdoor gear, says it recognized that it was time for a change in the supply chain when it found that most, if not all down they purchased came from geese raised and killed for foie gras. The methods used for fattening the goose is now considered by many to be inhumane.
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