The Textile Exchange says the RDS has had the biggest update since its launch in a bid to improve it

The Textile Exchange says the RDS has had the biggest update since its launch in a bid to improve it

The latest update of the Responsible Down Standard is described as the "most substantial revision" since its launch in 2014, and includes the mandatory euthanasia of sick or injured birds in order to prevent suffering, and stunning before slaughter.

The international, voluntary standard addresses animal welfare in the duck and geese supply chain and the supply of down and feather material from certified farms to the final product, and presently covers more than 500 million birds. It is owned and managed by Textile Exchange, and has been adopted in the supply chains of companies including H&M and The North Face. 

The goals of the Responsible Down Standard are to ensure that down and feathers do not come from supply chains where animals have been subjected to any unnecessary harm; incentivising the industry to engage in practices that respect the humane treatment of ducks and geese; and to educate and develop the supply chain in order to drive continuous improvement of best practices as well as ensuring a strong chain of custody for certified materials as they move through the supply chain.

The RDS strictly prohibits live-plucking and force-feeding, alongside holistic requirements like access to feed and water, proper handling, access to veterinary care, and other key elements that ensure the animals are respected.

The latest Version 3.0 of the RDS includes the following updates:  

  • Euthanasia of sick or injured birds in order to prevent suffering is now mandatory on the farm.
  • Stunning before slaughter is now mandatory at the slaughter site.
  • Stronger criteria related to handling, record keeping, and training of workers.
  • Observation of parent farms in industrial goose supply chains is now required, where the highest risk of live-plucking occurs.
  • All minor requirements are now mandatory (previously only 50% were required).
  • Restructuring of the document to provide clearer guidance for farms, suppliers, brands, and certification bodies.

Click here to view the Responsible Down Standard version 3.