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Patagonia

This page lists the information we hold on Patagonia's ethics and was last updated on 23 April 2016.  

More information about Patagonia can be found on the company's website.

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1. Ethical code?  -  yes

Patagonia’s Supplier Workplace Code of Conduct is based on International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and can be found on the company’s website.  

2. Living wages?  -  making progress

Patagonia’s website describes the steps the company is taking to try to ensure that living wages are paid to workers in the factories it uses.  Firstly, it has started producing some clothes which are produced according to Fair Trade certified standards.  This certification, conducted by Fair Trade USA, includes an assessment of whether wages ‘meet the basic needs of workers, including health care, education, housing and transportation’.  It also provides for additional ‘Fair Trade premium’ payments, which workers must decide democratically how to allocate, either ‘as a cash bonus, a collective social investment, or a combination’ (Fair Trade Certified Apparel and Home Goods Introduction for Factories, November 2013).

Secondly, Patagonia has taken the positive step of accepting that many workers in its factories are probably not paid a living wage, stating: ‘We are frustrated that we cannot currently quantify a living wage in the factories in which we make our products’.  To address this, Patagonia describes a programme that it is working on with the Fair Labor Association:

‘Currently, the FLA is collecting wage data worldwide and will publish charts that plot poverty lines, minimum wages and living wages against factory compensation. We will use these charts to gauge the gap between what we pay and what is considered a living wage. By December 2017 we will have established our wage benchmarks with FLA and will have plans in place to begin raising wages in our finished-goods supply chain.’  

3. Factory address list?  -  yes

The ‘Footprint Chronicles’ page on Patagonia’s website provides detailed information on the location of each of its supplier factories, which items are produced there and in some cases information on standards in that particular factory.  Patagonia has also gone one step further and under every product sold on its website, it provides information on where the fabric used to make that product was produced and where that product was sewn. 

4. Thorough factory checks?  -  yes

Patagonia’s website describes the company’s programme of ethical audits:

‘We audit 100% of our finished-goods factories (Tier 1 of the supply chain) for social and environmental concerns. This includes most subcontractors for our primary cut-and-sew facilities. We either perform a social audit ourselves, hire a third-party monitoring firm or–to reduce audit fatigue in factories–co-audit with other brands or obtain recent audit reports from a credible source on the Fair Factories Clearinghouse database (see below) or from the factory itself.’

It also describes how Patagonia’s ‘monitoring program was vetted and approved by the FLA [Fair Labor Association] as part of our accreditation process’.  The latest accreditation report for Patagonia on the Fair Labor Association’s website describes Patagonia’s ethical audit programme in detail, including confirmation that the company conducts unannounced factory checks and confidentially interviews factory workers. 

5. Factory check results published?  -  yes

Patagonia is a member of the Fair Labor Association (FLA), which audits a random sample of its factories each year.  The FLA website provides detailed information on the results of these audits. In addition, the ‘Footprint Chronicles’ page on Patagonia’s website provides further information on some of the results of the company’s own audits.

6. Worker complaint procedure?  -  yes

Patagonia’s Supplier Workplace Code of Conduct states:

‘THIS CODE OF CONDUCT AND OUR SEPARATE GRIEVANCE PHONE NUMBER DOCUMENT MUST BE POSTED NEXT TO EACH OTHER WITHIN THE FACTORY IN A CONSPICUOUS, FREELY ACCESSIBLE AREA IN THE LOCAL LANGUAGE(S) OF THE EMPLOYEE’ (p.4).

7. Checks on suppliers of suppliers?  -  yes

Patagonia’s Supplier Workplace Code of Conduct states:

‘Requirements in this Code apply to the whole supply chain, including sub-suppliers, sub-contractors and farms. Standards equally apply to permanent, temporary, and agency workers, as well as piece-rate, salaried, hourly paid, legal young workers (minors), part time, night, and migrant workers’ (p.1).

Patagonia’s website reports on the coverage of its monitoring programme:

‘We also monitor our largest raw-material suppliers (Tier 2 of the supply chain) and employ an audit and remediation process at these facilities similar to the one we use in Tier 1 factories.’

8. Reuse or recycle scheme?  -  yes

Patagonia’s website provides information on its ‘Worn Wear’ programme.  The company actively encourages its customers to buy fewer clothes through help with repairs, schemes to buy second hand Patagonia products and collection points to recycle clothing that is no longer needed.   In 2011, to discourage excessive consumption, the company even went so far as to take out an advert in the New York Times on Black Friday saying, ‘Don’t buy this jacket’.

9. Sustainable cotton?  -  yes

Patagonia’s website describes how the company uses only organic cotton in its cotton products.

10. Eliminating toxic chemicals?  -  yes

A recent posting on Patagonia’s blog, The Cleanest Line, describes the work the company is doing to eliminate toxic chemicals from its supply chain.  This includes a partnership with bluesign technologies, which works to eliminate ‘substances posing risks to people and the environment’.  According to the blog post, 56 per cent of Patagonia’s annual material volume is now bluesign approved.  To address the issue of toxic chemicals used in water repellent finishes, Patagonia has also recently made an investment in a company looking to ‘develop better chemistry for outdoor apparel that helps the planet’.

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