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MOUNTAIN EQUIPMENT CO-OP and their Ethical Sourcing Program

1. Organizational Governance

Transparency and communication


Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) was conceived by a small group of Canadian climbers who wanted a place to buy gear not carried by conventional retailers: gear for mountaineering, rock climbing, ski touring, and hiking. In 1971, these six initial members founded Mountain Equipment Co-op. Today MEC has around 3 million members and is the largest retail co-operative in Canada.

MEC has a strong initiative in sustainability and ethical sourcing.  They choose lower impact materials (organically grown cotton, recycled polyester, and PVC-free) for their products and by doing so they not only reduce their footprint on the planet, but communicate responsible buying to consumers.  Their Ethical Sourcing Program is dedicated to building sustainable relationships with suppliers and to improve conditions in factories.

Each year, MEC funds conservation, access, and other environmental initiatives.  They also promote local initiatives in ethical consumerism.


  •   To be transparent to consumers and improve the human condition in factories


Factory Audit Program: A layered auditing system provides objective and independent assessment that’s critical to the program’s integrity. This program is conducted by MEC merchandisers, external auditors, and the Fair Labor Association.

Corrective action and empowering workers: MEC operates a confidential hotline for workers to report infractions. They can contact trained compliance staff (in their native tongue) by phone, text message, or email without fear or repercussion.  This also helps managers understand the rights of workers and find resolutions for improving working conditions.  MEC also has joint programs with other retailers, brands, audit partners and NGO’s in order to achieve a broad impact for improving the manufacturing sector.

Transparency:  MEC is the first Canadian retailer to disclose which factories make their products.  “Transparency has become more important than protecting our resources. We can't foresee to what extent we'll put our business at risk by disclosing factory locations, but we agree that the information should be made public.”

A Blog, which encourages an informed dialogue on what’s happening in factories everywhere.



  •   Quality products which derive from sustainable relationships with suppliers
  •   Setting an ethical example in a very competitive industry


  •   Improved factory conditions
  •   Communication about ethical sourcing to consumers
  •   Products which ethically aware   consumers trust
256 million dollars

Mise à jour le 24/05/2016

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