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Outdoor retailer REI Co-op has announced new product standards for its more than 1,000 brand partners, including requirements for measuring greenhouse gas emissions and setting goals to reduce emissions; working toward equity with inclusive products and product sizes and equal pricing across sizes; and eliminating all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from cookware and textiles by Fall 2024.

The new Product Impact Standards build on REI’s existing standards, such as a ban on long-chain PFAS in all products and an expectation that all products that will come into contact with food or beverages be free of bisphenol A (BPA). The new product standards on PFAS follow increasing legislation to limit or ban PFAS, including a ban in California, of which REI shared a statement in support.

The company’s ban on PFAS will require textiles, including clothing, footwear, accessories, packs and bags, and cookware to be free of “forever chemicals.” REI partners that supply professional-grade products, such as heavy-duty textiles and equipment for expeditions, will have a longer timeline, with the ban taking effect for these products in Fall 2026.

“REI’s action sends a clear signal to all apparel companies that PFAS are just too dangerous to be used on our clothing,” Laurie Valeriano, executive director of Toxic-Free Future, said in a statement. “With this decision, this sustainability-minded company is getting out ahead of regulation. REI should make sure these persistent, toxic chemicals are replaced with safer solutions by requiring full ingredient disclosure and assessment for hazards.”

PFAS are a group of chemicals that have earned the nickname “forever chemicals” due to their inability to break down in the environment. PFAS are commonly found in cookware, because these chemicals can give cookware non-stick qualities. These chemicals are also frequently used in stain-resistant and waterproof textiles as well as firefighting foam.

While PFAS are frequently used to make products more durable or easier to use, they have a concerning impact on human health and the planet. Research is ongoing to uncover just how these chemicals impact humans and wildlife, but so far, experts have linked PFAS to reproductive issuesdevelopmental impacts in children, increased risks of cancer and worse immune system responses to vaccines and diseases.

Several companies have already enacted restrictions on PFAS, including VF Corporation (which owns major brands like Timberland and The North Face), Lowe’s and 3M. Despite being well-known for its environmental stances, REI was spotlighted in a campaign by Toxic-Free Future for being behind in banning PFAS as other companies and states created more regulations around forever chemicals.

In addition to the ban on PFAS, REI’s updated product standards for 2023 include requiring its brand partners to measure their greenhouse gas emissions and set emissions reduction targets and expecting brand partners to offer inclusive sizing, including price equity across sizes, and inclusive product offerings for diverse hair types.

REI noted it has also set its own emissions reduction targets using Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), with a goal of reducing emissions 55%, compared to a 2019 baseline, by 2030.


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