A recent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) that studied the environmental impact of down versus polyester fill material found that natural down in jackets, sleeping bags and bedspreads has 18 times less of an impact on climate change than polyester fill. The LCA was commissioned by the International Down and Feather Bureau (IDFB), an independent third-party body specializing in LCAs and sustainability reports.
The LCA analyzed the impact of both natural down and polyester fill material in five environmental areas: human health, ecosystems, resources, cumulative energy demand and climate change. On a per-ton basis, down was found to have 85 to 97 percent lower impacts than polyester in all the impact categories analyzed.
The study had a full comparative panel that assessed down, from the raising of ducks or geese to the processing of the down, including water, energy and detergent. As for the polyester material, it included processing polymer polyethylene terephthalate (PET), heat and electricity.