Mountain Equipment has throughout its 50 year history committed a great deal of time and effort into ensuring we consistently obtain the very best qualities of down for use in our sleeping bags and clothing. However in recent years we have become all too-aware that there are also ethical, environmental and animal welfare issues relating to the sourcing of our down.
We know we cannot change everything overnight but are working hard with our suppliers to understand everything there is to know about our supply chain so we can take steps to improve it where possible.
The DOWN CODEX Project was launched in 2009, comprising a range of rules and commitments that we expected our down supply chain to adhere to and achieve. The aim, to have the most comprehensive and transparent auditing mechanism for our down supply chain of any outdoor manufacturer in the world.
The DOWN CODEX is made up of 3 key stages
Stage 1: Our rules & commitments
Mountain Equipment will continue to obtain the very best qualities of down from a variety of sources across the world.
All of the down we use should be a by-product of food production and be obtained after birds have been humanely slaughtered.
There should be no live plucking, or live harvesting of our down.
No birds should be force fed during the fattening process before slaughter.
The birds should be kept in good conditions and raised to high welfare standards appropriate for ducks and geese. They should be free to roam compounds and have barns to shelter in with good access to fresh water and natural food. Stocking densities, i.e. how many birds per square metre, should be lower than recommended maximums.
After collection the down should be cleaned and sorted, using modern water based methods that do not require the use of solvents.
Every batch of down that we buy should be tested for cleanliness, composition and fill power. Independent testing should be carried out by the IDFL and all fill power tests should be measured and stated according to the International IDFB Lorch cylinder method.
Stage 2: Communication with our suppliers
Every one of these rules and commitments has been communicated to all of our suppliers. Our suppliers now understand that should they wish to continue to supply us, they must comply.
Stage 3: The Auditing & Traceability System
This is where we have gone further than anybody else in our industry. We have now set up an auditing process using a third party to check that what we are being told about our down supply is actually true and that suppliers adhere to our rules and meet our commitments.
The audit seeks to investigate every stage of our down supply chain, including wholesalers, sorting houses, slaughterhouses and individual farms where the birds are raised as well.
Using this information it should be possible to accurately trace each and every individual batch of down we use. Starting in the spring of 2012, all of our down filled sleeping bags will carry a 12 digit code that will allow our customers to trace the down used in their actual bag via this website. We hope to extend this feature to include all of our clothing also in due course.