Gore-Tex has announced its plans to invest more than $15 million over the next five years, to explore alternative durable water repellent (DWR) solutions. The goal is to deliver new solutions with an improved environmental profile while still providing durable comfort at or above the performance level of today’s best DWR.
Gore-Tex says it recognizes the ongoing debate regarding PFCs, substances found in a wide variety of applications – from the automotive industry, the electronic to the textile industry.
Perfluorinated materials are typically used in the outdoor industry and in technical fabrics as a treatment to improve the water, oil (e.g. sunscreen lotions) and stain repellency of textiles, often referred to as DWR treatments. However, since concerns about PFCs and their presence in DWR treatments began to surface, Gore-Tex has been actively engaged in the issue.
Bernhard Kiehl, Leader of the Gore-Tex’s ’ Sustainability Program says: “Gore-Tex has taken a leadership role in the outdoor industry regarding the sustainable management of PFCs. We invested significantly and are one of the first to completely eliminate PFOA from our raw materials in the manufacture of the entire range of functional textiles.”
Gore-Tex’s current DWR combines high performance with less environmental Impact
Today, Gore-Tex fabrics use a DWR treatment that has greatly improved environmental properties. This was accomplished without a need to increase the amount of chemicals used in the application process or compromising the repellency performance end-user’s expect.
Bernhard Kiehl: “We are confident that our current DWR treatment provides the best combination of high comfort, durable performance and low environmental footprint.” The current DWR treatments allow Gore to achieve a very high durability of water repellency which enables a long useful life for Gore functional outerwear products. Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) studies conducted with critical guidance of the Oeko-Institut Freiburg e.V. have shown that the best way to minimize the environmental footprint of functional outerwear is to enhance its durability”.
DWR comparison test shows significant differences
Gore-Tex has already made significant investments in research of water repellent technologies to improve environmental properties. Since 2013, Gore has been evaluating a range of DWR treatments that are based on both fluorinated polymers and non-fluorinated polymers e.g. hydrocarbon or wax-based. Lab and field test results revealed that non-fluorinated DWRs currently available have a significantly lower durability of water repellency in normal outdoor use compared to the DWR that Gore-Tex uses.
John P. Cusick, Global Business Leader Consumer Garments: “Duringour tests, the non-fluorinated DWR treatment completely failed after only a short time of field use. This rapid decline of water repellency fails to meet the user’s expectation and need for a comfortable, long lasting, performing garment.”
$15,000,000 investment into research of alternative material solutions
To explore alternative material solutions, Gore-Tex plans to invest more than $15,000,000 over the next 5 years.
John P. Cusick: “We are open to different ideas and technologies from both internal and external resources. Our commitment as a technology leadership company goes far beyond finding alternatives to current coating solutions. We also are exploring completely new approaches that may provide the necessary functionalities in non-traditional ways in order to reduce the environmental footprint of our products and to act as a role model for a more responsible outdoor industry.”
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