According to its fourth annual stewardship report released last week, Recreational Equipment Incorporated is apparently very encouraged by its participation in the Fair Factories Clearinghouse (FCC), which it joined last year to reduce the cost of auditing its offshore factories’ fair labor and environmental practices. Armed with a letter from the U.S.


Department of Justice providing anti-trust clearance, the FFC was created in 2006 to help western hemisphere brands arrest rising compliance costs and address increasingly adversarial relations with their offshore vendors through a database developed by Reebok.

REI conducts full third-party audits of all factories that produce REI branded apparel and gear and its Novara branded bicycles and cycling gear at least once every three years depending on each factory’s compliance record. In 2009, those products accounted for nearly $300 million of the co-op’s $1.46 billion in sales. That purchasing power, and the co-op's status as the largest dealer for many outdoor brands, gives REI tremendous clout in setting factory standards for the industry.