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Gore to Phase Out Perfluorinated Chemicals, Develop New Waterproofing Coatings

waterproof shoesGore Fabrics says it will eliminate perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) of environmental concern from its products by 2023.

Gore, which supplies products including jackets and shoes to major outdoor apparel makers including Patagonia and The North Face, calls the move an “important milestone in its long-term journey towards continuously reducing the environmental footprint of its products throughout their full life cycle.”

Environmental groups including Greenpeace have targeted Gore and other companies’ use of PFCs, which are commonly used to improve water resistance in high-performance clothing. The EPA says these chemicals are toxic, persist in the environment worldwide, and can accumulate in people and animals.

Gore says it will phase out PFCs in two steps:

  1. By the end of 2020, it will eliminate PFCs of environmental concern from its consumer laminate shipments, which represent about 85 percent of its product units in the market. This includes jackets, shoes, gloves and accessories.
  2. Between 2021 and 2023 Gore will remove PFCs of environmental concern from the remaining products.

To achieve these targets, Gore says it is working with its suppliers to eliminate PFCs and develop new durable water repellent coatings and materials. It plans to make the first products using these new coatings and materials available to retail buyers in the autumn/winter 2018 season.

This won’t be an easy task, Joel A. Tickner, director of the Department of Community Health & Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, told Chemical & Engineering News.

Despite Gore, Patagonia, The North Face and other apparel companies’ serious efforts to develop high-performance alternatives to PFCs, “they’ve been in a holding pattern,” Tickner said. “So far, nothing works as well as perfluorinated chemicals.”

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