The use of down in the outdoor industry has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years. In particular, NGOs such as Four Paws have demanded that brands ensure guaranteed best-practices in their supply chains. Our sector has been consistently proactive in its approach to ethical issues such as this and there has been general support to the idea and values behind it, but the complexity of down sourcing (to put it in a few words, down gets sourced in several ways – it is blended and is a side product of meat production) has made immediate actions difficult. A recently conducted EOG short study on down use estimates the volume at 1,250- 2,116 tons per year. Despite indications that this is an all time high of down usage in the sector, based on the (unfortunately vague and unspecific) total figures that are available, outdoor still accounts for a low single digit percentage. Therefore, the leverage within the supply chain seems limited and we are confident that we are following the correct approach in trying to move ahead as industry, while encouraging the wider down users and supply chain to get further engaged.
In the background, there has been some significant progress made and recently Patagonia and The North Face put their down standard details into the public domain (here and here). The EOG was part of the stakeholder consultancy that The North Face undertook in the development of its standard, before handing it over to Textile Exchange. We believe that this is a great development for the wider industry, as the standard is now accessible for other brands and is independently held.
We are now aiming to help find a way to achieve, in the long term, one single industry standard, which is held by an independent body, is cost efficient, and is acceptable to both businesses and NGOs.