Last week, Gore announced they were allocating $15 million over the next five years towards research into eco-friendly alternatives to current DWR treatments. The goal is to deliver new solutions with an improved environmental profile while still providing the level of durability and performance expected from today’s DWR technologies.
Back in 2012, Greenpeace called out the outdoor industry for its use of harmful PFCs or perfluorochemicals in outerwear. PFCs are a large group of manufactured compounds that are widely used to make everyday products more resistant to stains, grease, and water. The problem is, PFCs break down very slowly in the environment (and us!) and have been show to disrupt normal endocrine activity, reduce immune function, cause adverse effects on multiple organs, and developmental problems.
In the past couple of years, outdoor brands have stepped up to the plate and jumped on board to find better solutions–Patagonia recently invested in Switzerland’s Beyond Surface Technologies to help create fluorocarbon-free water repellency solutions and Columbia Sportswear ditched the need for DWR treatment all together with OutDry Extreme.
While Gore has already eliminated PFOA (a type of PFC) from their raw materials in the manufacture of their entire range of functional textiles, the company wants to do more. According to John P. Cusick, Global Business Leader Consumer Garments at Gore, “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.”
I am curious to see where this all goes as the whole water-repellency game is ripe for innovation.