Only the Best Gear Will Get Through These Doors in 2024

Seattle-based retailer REI releases the latest update to its Product Sustainability Standards, significantly increasing its requirements on its brand partners’ carbon emission reductions, advancement of diversity, and complete elimination of PFAS beginning already next year.

REI Co-op is setting a new benchmark to advance more sustainable and inclusive business practices in the retail industry, with the release of its new Product Impact Standards. The standards provide a platform to engage REI’s 1,000+ brand partners as the co-op addresses its most significant environmental impact and opportunity: the products it sells and the supply chains behind them.

Today’s announcement marks the third evolution of the standards, which were first announced in 2018 and updated in 2020. The new version builds upon the co-op’s existing standards, while elevating expectations in three key areas: fighting climate change, advancing inclusion in the outdoors and managing chemicals.

“The standards keep the co-op and over 1,000 of our brand partners accountable as we address the issues that are most important to our community,” said Chris Speyer, VP of Product. “The products we carry represent our greatest opportunities to support better ways of doing business. We want our members and customers to know the products they purchase at REI are helping to build a better retail industry.”

REI’s Product Impact Standards, among the first of their kind in the retail industry, are designed to evolve over time to ensure the co-op proactively engages partners on the industry’s most important topics. Key updates in 2023 include:

 

  • Elevated expectations requiring brands to measure their greenhouse gas emissions and set emissions reduction targets. REI has formally committed to our own emissions reduction target via the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
  • New expectations to advance equity across outdoor gear and apparel, specifically regarding price equity across size ranges, inclusive sizing and inclusive offerings for diverse hair types.
  • Updated chemicals management expectations, in part to ensure wide industry alignment with new state laws regarding the use of PFAS.

 

The standards encompass both brand expectations (requirements of all brands and products sold at the co-op) and preferred attributes (voluntary certifications and features deemed to be effective at advancing sustainability and driving positive impact). The new guidelines were developed in consultation with partner brands to ensure they are both feasible and impactful.

In 2022, REI submitted a science-based target for approval via the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). This target adds additional rigor and credibility to the co-op’s emissions reduction target. As part of this commitment, REI will be engaging with partners to ensure brands representing at least 55% of our annual sales volume will also set a science-aligned emissions reduction target by 2025. The co-op will provide a variety of resources and engagement opportunities to support brands as they work to pursue this goal—including workshops, guidance documentation, partnerships with the OIA’s Climate Action Corps, and more.

The co-op uses a Product Impact Assessment as the primary means of tracking progress in implementing the standards. In 2021, REI brand partners representing over $3.8 billion in annual sales assessed their sustainability practices and shared their progress with the co-op. More than 400 brands encompassing over 10,000 styles reported using REI’s preferred sustainability attributes for their products. Over 300 brands representing more than 70% of annual sales stated that they had measured their greenhouse gas emissions and set reduction targets.

“REI’s Product Impact Standards demonstrate our collective power to drive change within our industry and society as we work towards a more sustainable and equitable future,” said Speyer.

The full updated standards can be viewed here.

 

About REI

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of 21.5 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 181 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia.

REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company that runs more than 100 itineraries across the country. In many communities where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.

Photo: Johanna Fraenkel

SUSTON
jonathan.eidse@norragency.com


More Stories

“Are certifications bullshit?”

While European brands began voluntarily phasing out PFAS in outdoor equipment years ago, US brands have been dragging their feet. Will incoming legislation finally level the playing field?

By SUSTON

Visions from the Changemakers: Kim Scholze, CSMO, Sympatex

How can outdoor companies navigate and steer in the right directions? And not get swamped in the daily operations? In a series of interviews Suston, Editor-in-chief Gabriel Arthur reaches out to industry changemakers to hear about their long-term perspectives.

By Gabriel Arthur

“At best, this should be seen as greenwashing”

While European brands began voluntarily phasing out PFAS in outdoor equipment years ago, US brands have been dragging their feet. Will incoming legislation finally level the playing field?

By Meg Carney

Visions from the Changemakers: Vaude CEO, Antje von Dewitz

How can outdoor companies navigate and steer in the right directions? And not get swamped in the daily operations? In a series of interviews Suston, Editor-in-chief Gabriel Arthur reaches out to industry changemakers to hear about their long-term perspectives.

By Gabriel Arthur

More News