Companies push for more sustainable finishing technologies

February 24th, 2017 / By: / EcoNote

HeiQ and Patagonia have formed an exclusive research partnership to explore sustainable textile finishing technologies to achieve breathable and durable water repellence (DWR).

HeiQ reports that recent studies quantify the hazardous effects of perfluorinated chemistries (PFCs) on human health and the environment. Alternatives to PFCs exist, including first-generation nonfluorinated DWRs.

The companies’ teamwork may help respond to the desire for greater knowledge about nonfluorinated water, stain and oil repellency performance. According to a survey conducted with 40 outdoor, apparel and fashion brands in August 2016 by HeiQ Textile Market Knowledge Centre, 56 percent of the respondents expressed a need to learn more regarding the DWR performance function.

The companies share a vision that technology can perfect everyday textile products and in turn create a greener and more sustainable future for the environment. A central component of Patagonia’s material innovation strategy is to minimize the proliferation of toxic chemicals. Among HeiQ’s product portfolio are several fluorine-free DWR technologies, including the HeiQ Eco Dry product.

Gore set to eliminate PFCs by 2020

Meanwhile, by 2020 Gore Fabrics Division intends to eliminate PFCs of environmental concern from its DWR treatments and membrane manufacturing processes.

That goal is one of a set that guides the company in its long-term sustainability program committed to reducing the environmental footprint of its products throughout their full life cycle. To that end, Gore will collaborate with suppliers to eliminate PFCs that are present in the processing aides Gore Fabrics’ suppliers use to manufacture PTFE.

Bernard Kiehl, sustainability leader at Gore, says a clear distinction between PFCs of environmental concern and PTFE will help overcome ambiguity about material safety. He says that a “rigorous and precise definition clears the way for Gore and its customers to deliver more sustainable technology innovations.”

Kiehl points out that durability has an environmental impact as well. “The longer a product is worn, the better for the environment.”