W. L. Gore & Associates on Monday announced ambitious environmental and chemical management goals for 2020 as part of Gore Fabrics Division’s long-term sustainability program.
These goals complement its existing chemicals management program based upon stringent and independent third-party standards such as Bluesign system and Oeko-Tex. Included in these goals is Gore Fabrics’ intent to eliminate PFCs of environmental concern from its consumer fabrics products as an important milestone in its journey toward reducing the environmental footprint of its products throughout their full life cycle. By implementing an aggressive innovation program, Gore is working toward the elimination of these PFCs from its Durable Water Repellent treatments and membrane manufacturing processes as a two-step initiative.
By the end of 2020, Gore Fabrics will eliminate these PFCs from its consumer laminate shipments corresponding to about 85 percent of product units in the market. This includes jackets, shoes, gloves and accessories. Between 2021 and 2023, Gore Fabrics will remove these PFCs from the remaining consumer fabrics laminate shipments, while continuing to deliver products that meet the performance specifications relevant for the end use.
To achieve these goals, Gore will undertake an innovation program that will include collaborating with suppliers to eliminate PFCs that are present in the processing aides Gore Fabrics’ suppliers use to manufacture PTFE.
Christian Langer, a member of Gore Fabrics’ Divisional Leadership Team, said, “Gore continuously strives to deliver outdoor products with the optimal combination of high technical performance and sustainability. By adopting the ambitious goal to eliminate PFCs of environmental concern from all of our consumer fabrics products, we are underlining our decades long commitment to continuously improve the environmental profile of our products. Together with our suppliers, we intend to achieve our goal through an aggressive innovation program that will entail the development of new DWR treatments and membrane materials.”
Gore Fabrics is pursuing multiple technical solutions in parallel, including the development of fluorinated and non-fluorinated solutions. The first products with a DWR treatment free of PFCs are targeted for availability at retail in the fall 2018 season. As part of its engagement with stakeholders, Gore entered into a dialogue with Greenpeace regarding the use of PFCs in outdoor apparel industry. As a result, Greenpeace and Gore have come to a mutual understanding on the distinct properties of materials that constitute a PFC of environmental concern.
Bernhard Kiehl, Gore Fabrics sustainability leader, said, “The clear distinction between PFCs of environmental concern and PTFE will help overcome a long-standing ambiguity of how to differentiate materials that are safe from those that raise concerns. In addition to providing clearly defined guardrails for the outdoor industry, a rigorous and precise definition clears the way for Gore and its customers to deliver more sustainable technology innovations.”
Based on broad scientific consensus and supported by Greenpeace, Gore’s membrane material PTFE made without the use of PFCs of environmental concern is considered environmentally sound. This polymer is inert, insoluble in water and does not degrade.
Chiara Campione, Detox Outdoor corporate lead at Greenpeace Italy, said, “Greenpeace welcomes this move as a real game changer in the outdoor industry. Given Gore Fabrics’ influential role in the value chain, the innovation that Gore is driving will significantly broaden the range of materials free of hazardous PFCs for outdoor products, including those using PTFE membranes with less environmental burden.”
Gore noted that almost 90 percent of consumer garment laminates are certified according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100, with the rest manufactured in compliance with its requirements. By 2020, Gore Fabrics intends to have 100 percent of consumer garment laminates achieve Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification. About 70 percent of consumer garment laminate volume is currently Bluesign approved, with Gore now targeting 85 percent of its consumer garments volume to be Bluesign approved by 2020.
“With our new chemical management goals we are initiating an impressive technology development program that will have a substantial impact due to our unique position in the value chain,” Kiehl said.
Founded in 1958, Gore helped revolutionize the outerwear industry with Gore-Tex fabric. The company is also known for its strong, team-oriented culture and continued recognition from the Great Place to Work Institute. Headquartered in Newark, Del., Gore employs about 10,000 associates and generates annual revenues that exceed $3 billion.