The latest brand to join the EcoSki family — Rab — is now tagging all of its outdoor clothing and sleeping bags with easy-to-understand sustainability details. The exciting move makes it one of the first British brands to bring itself in line with existing laws in France and upcoming rules in the UK on clothing traceability.

Each new item on sale from British brand Rab will now contain a tag with a QR code, a quick scan of which will reveal its “Material Facts” — details on the recycled content of each product, its country of manufacture and its fluorocarbon content. The sustainability tables are also available on the website page for each Rab item, too.

Rab is in the process of creating sustainability tables for all of its remaining gear and plans to label every item it sells, and that is sold by Lowe Alpine (both owned by Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd) by the end of 2024.

Rachael Westbrook, founder of EcoSki, welcomed the news, saying: “This is exactly why I set up EcoSki, so that consumers could be sure that when they buy or rent an item from us, that it has been produced in the most environmentally and socially sound way possible. We’ve done the hard work delving into how every piece of kit we stock is produced, so you don’t have to.

“We are so excited that EcoSki is now stocking Rab for skiers to hire. They align so well with our values. Of course none of us are perfect, but some brands are working harder than others to reduce their carbon footprint and the use of nasty chemicals, dyes and packaging in their products and to increase their environmental performance.

“This traceability can only ever be a good thing, and I look forward to seeing much more.”

Compulsory eco-labelling coming to Europe

The sustainability data produced by Rab is different from the eco-labelling system introduced a couple of years ago by Decathlon. The French company now lists the environmental impact of just over 60 per cent of its products, awarding them a rating from A to E in a system that considers the entire life cycle of the product from the raw materials, manufacturing (including water and energy used), transport and end of life. By the end of 2026, in line with forthcoming EU laws, all clothing, footwear and other Decathlon textiles (thing bags, tents etc) will be eco-labelled.

In France, eco-labelling became compulsory for all clothing brands with a turnover above €50 million from 1 January 2023, with the law on smaller clothing brands to be phased in during 2024 and 2025.

Businesses are required to provide consumers with detailed information on a product’s reparability, recyclability, sustainability, possibilities for re-use, their recycled material content, use of renewable resources, traceability and the presence of plastic microfibres. Under traceability, companies must include not only the country of final manufacture but also list the location of all processes — so that includes weaving, dyeing, printing and assembly of all materials, including zips.

The EU is introducing similar traceability and environmental labelling laws, under the Digital Product Passport scheme, which is set to come into force by 2026.

That means in reality that in the next couple of years, QR codes and dedicated web pages with the environmental credentials for each and every garment bought will be provided. While the UK doesn’t yet have such laws, any company selling in to France or the EU must comply — so that means most, if not all of the outdoor clothing brands we love and use in the mountains will be fully traceable and we as consumers will be able to make decisions that are right for us.

Debbie Read of Equip Outdoor Technologies says: “Material Facts allows us to be more open and transparent about our sustainability data. This helps us simplify complex sustainability communication for our customers, allowing them to make decisions based upon data and facts without the use of terminology like ‘green’, ‘eco’, or ‘sustainable’. We see Material Facts as an enabler that allows us to quickly adapt to individual country requirements and legislation by taking advantage of QR code technology and our ability to quickly update accurate data, and hold archive data for end consumers to access.”

To check out the full range available to hire from Rab, click here.