REI saw instances of non-compliance with its Factory Code of Conduct quadruple in 2013 as it upped its scrutiny of building safety in the wake of fires and building collapses that killed hundreds of garment workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan in recent years.
While an REI did not source any product from either country in 2013, its 2013 Stewardship Report shows 48 of its 132 Tier 1 factories were audited or assessed last year, up from 35 in 2012. The factories make REI brand apparel, tents, backpacks and other products, which accounted for about 20 percent of REI’s $2.0 billion in sales in 2013.
REI publishes the stewardship report annually to outline progress made reinvesting in the communities it serves, creating sustainable operations and products and creating a healthy and fair workplace.
The report discloses that in 2013, auditors found 196 instances of non-compliance with the health and safety provisions of REI’s Factory Code of Conducts. By comparison, just 50 such instances were found in 2012. REI attributed the increase to three primary factors.
“First, we doubled the number of visits to our factories in 2013, contributing to the rise in numbers in several categories,” reads the report. “Second, auditors heightened their scrutiny of safety and evacuation procedures because of the Bangladeshi and Pakistani factory disasters in recent years. Third, we added additional code provisions relating to the structural integrity of buildings.”
On April 24 2013, more than 1,100 garment workers were killed in Dhaka, Bangladesh when the building they were working in – the Rana Plaza – collapsed. Subsequent investigations revealed blatant building code violations and sparked an international campaign to enhance building safety at hundreds of Banagladeshi garment factories.