Only products that are 100% certified down can now be labelled as RDS

Only products that are 100% certified down can now be labelled as RDS

International non-profit organisation Textile Exchange (TE) has launched the latest version of its Responsible Down Standard (RDS), designed to help companies ensure the down in their products comes from ethically treated geese and can be traced across the supply chain.

The third party certification standard, which can be applied to any waterfowl-based supply chain, was developed as part of a joint effort by outdoor wear brand The North Face, Textile Exchange, and Control Union Certifications.

Although one of the highest quality, best performing materials for use in apparel, down comes from geese and ducks that are bred primarily for the food industry and has come to the attention of animal welfare groups due to issues such as live-plucking and force-feeding.

Aiming to recognise and encourage best practices in animal welfare, and enable traceability so products can be labelled accurately, the first version launched in January last year.

Since then, an International Working Group (IWG), comprised of brands, animal welfare groups, and supply chain members, has been working to revise the standard.

Parallel production is banned all the way through to the slaughterhouse, and now only products that are 100% certified down can be labelled as RDS.

As well as The North Face, which has committed to 100% certified and responsibly sourced down across all product lines by 2017, international apparel brands and retailers such as Adidas, Black Diamond, Eddie Bauer, H&M, Helly Hansen and Timberland have also pledged to use the standard.

Welcoming the efforts, Nina Jamal, international farm animals campaigner at Four Paws, said: "The RDS has been successful in driving transparency and adoption of traceability across the down supply chain.

"Our hope is for the standard to continue evolving in order to provide the highest possible guarantees that live-plucking and fore-feeding are fully excluded from the down supply chain."