Down was found to have 85-97% lower impacts than polyester in all the impact categories analysed

Down was found to have 85-97% lower impacts than polyester in all the impact categories analysed

Natural down and feathers in jackets have 18 times less of an impact on climate change than polyester fill, according to a new Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the environmental impact of the two materials.

The LCA, commissioned by the International Down and Feather Bureau (IDFB), analysed the impact of down and polyester fill in five environmental areas: human health, ecosystems, resources, cumulative energy demand and climate change.

Results concluded that on a per ton basis, down was found to have 85-97% lower impacts than polyester in all the impact categories analysed.

The claim that down has a lower environmental footprint compared to its alternative was scientifically substantiated by Long Trail Sustainability, an independent third-party firm specialising in LCAs and sustainability reports.

"Because down is a natural resource, we knew that it had a positive environmental impact, which led us to commission this study in order to verify the sustainability of down versus synthetic alternatives, such as polyester," says IDFB president Stephen Palmer. "The consumer movement towards natural and sustainable products is precisely in line with the value proposition of down products."

Down is used to fill and insulate everyday items including apparel, outdoor gear and home products such as bedding and pillows. In addition to being a natural byproduct and renewable, down and feather provides superior warmth without the weight, and is biodegradable, and can be ethically sourced.

The study assessed down from the raising of ducks/geese through to the processing of the down including energy, water and detergent. Boundaries for the polyester material included processing including polymer polyethylene terephthalate (PET), heat and electricity.

The globally recognised Responsible Down Standard (RDS) was created to ensure that down and feathers do not come from supply chains where animals have been subjected to any unnecessary harm, while the provenance of raw materials can be traced and authenticated by solutions such as Applied DNA Sciences' molecular tagging.