96 Replies Latest reply on Jun 23, 2016 1:04 PM by

    Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

    Anna Ivanova

      In this second session of Ask the Innovators, join us Jan. 27th on the Green Chemistry Innovation Portal to discuss the science of greener alternatives to durable water repellents for textiles. For an introduction to the topic, see this article by Christiana Briddell. During our online discussion, you can ask innovators and researchers at Patagonia, Chemours, the Swedish Research Institute for Industrial Renewal and Sustainable Growth (Swerea), and the University of Leeds anything you would like to know about durable water repellent technology.  Our participants have been recruited from different sectors and areas of expertise in order to provide a variety of perspectives on this topic.

       

      The experts joining us for this session will be:

      • Bob Buck, Chemours
        Technical Fellow
        Bob Buck works for The Chemours Company and has 28 years of experience in textiles and DWR finishes. The Chemours Company produces both short-chain fluorinated and renewably sourced non-fluorinated DWR products. Bob leads a multi-disciplinary program to understand the life-cycle sustainability of Chemours’ products. This work includes advocacy, global collaboration, communication and interaction with academic, regulatory, NGO and industrial scientists. He is a co-author of numerous peer-reviewed publications and book chapters.
      • Matt Dwyer, Patagonia
        Director of Materials Innovation
        Matt Dwyer received his B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from Lehigh University in 2006 and spent nearly 8 years at W.L. Gore & Associates developing ePTFE-based high performance technical fabrics. He now directs Materials Innovation at Patagonia, which is much more than sourcing fabrics from existing supply chains -- successful innovation in materials requires having the resources to understand and implement clean chemistries and technologies all the way up the supply chain, of which DWR is a critical component. DWR has been a constant theme in Matt's career, from early challenges in optimization, to managing the transition away from C8-based chemistries on technical fabrics, and investing and implementing future technologies in the Outdoor Industry.
      • Stefan Posner, Swerea IVF
        Senior Researcher
        Stefan Posner is a polymer and textile chemist at Swerea IVF with over 30 years experience in researching chemicals in textiles and polymeric materials. He has collaborated with international companies, governments, and academia in several international projects over the years. Stefan has spent many years doing legal preparatory work on chemicals for UNEP Stockholm Convention, EU Commission and several national authorities and is deeply involved in research to substitute hazardous chemicals. His work has recently focused on highly fluorinated substances and flame retardants.
      • Philippa Hill, University of Leeds
        Postgraduate Researcher
        Philippa Hill is a Ph.D. researcher at the University of Leeds, UK, studying repellency in outdoor apparel, specifically consumer care and maintenance. Her research work includes laboratory-based and qualitative social methods, working alongside the outdoor industry. She is a keen mountaineer, which adds to her interest in repellent outdoor apparel and the end-use of the chemistry on fabric.

       

      Ask the experts anything you like: How do durable water and stain repellents work? Why are conventional chemistries falling out of favor? What alternatives to perfluorinated chemicals are available? How can academia and industry collaborate to create next generation textile chemistry?

      Questions will be collected on this post and answered live by text on January 27th, so create a free ACS ID now and submit your question below. Come back from 11:30 AM-1:00 PM ET (8:30-10:00 AM PT) on Jan. 27th to chat with the innovators and the community right here!

       

      Ask your question below, and don't forget to come back on January 27th to see the answer.

        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
          Robert Buck

          Looking forward to a dynamic session to address your questions!

            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
              John Frazier

              What are the major barriers around broad(er) acceptance of non-F DWR with brands? And how can these be overcome?

                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                  Robert Buck

                  The challenge is aligning the interests of the supply chain players that are necessary to implement new technologies.  Communication is a big challenge across global supply chains.  Engaging with key decision makers at each step is really helpful.  Identifying them isn't.  Motivations vary and have to be understood and addressed

                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                      Thanks Bob. Can you give a bit more detail about the engagement Chemours (and others) need to make the transition to non-F DWR successful? Given the hands off approach of contract manufacturing, how can brands up their game on issues like this? Is it thru direct conversations with chemical companies? It feels like the engagement needed is very different than most brands are used to.

                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                          Robert Buck

                          This is THE challenge/opportunity.  My experience tells me that you need to know specific people and get those people together in order to drive change and new technologies.  To be sure, Brands need to be a loud and active voice to propel new technologies.  Direct conversations between Brands and chemical companies is necessary but not sufficient.  All the supply chain partners need to be known and engaged. This is different and there is a lot of trust that needs to be in place.  Let's start building!

                      • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                        Philippa Hill

                        The 'barriers' are the durability and longitudinal performance of fluorine-free DWRs, and that in some instances, such as extreme mountaineering, long-lasting repellency is necessary in extreme weather conditions. It depends on the end-use of the consumer. Ongoing research into the deterioration of the repellent functionality, the expectations and requirements of consumer, and the evolving fluorine-free chemistries will give further information into whether fluorine-free DWRs are suitable. There is not just one fluorine-free alternative but many different chemistries, and methods, which are being developed. It is a complex challenge!

                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                          Hi John, great to hear from you.  Patagonia lays out their DWR philosophy in this blog post: The Cleanest Line: Our DWR Problem [Updated]

                           

                          In short, after a thorough screening of existing and in-development fluorine-free chemistries, Patagonia has not yet found a suitable replacement that meets our quality and performance standards.  We are continuing funded research in the area as a top priority, but we do not want to sacrifice the lifespan of a garment (ie it ends up in the landfill sooner). 

                           

                          Bob hits the nail on the head regarding Brand insistence.  In general, it is extremely difficult to pull an ingredient chemistry all the way through a supply chain at the insistence of a chemistry supplier.  It takes a Brand to do the legwork on technical qualification and also to put the dollars on the line at the end of the garment manufacturing process!

                      • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                        Joel Tickner

                        To what degree is functional substitution - the idea of replacing function and not molecular substitution being discussed with regards to DWRs?  Are there times where water repellency performance is overprescribed?  What material changes/modifications may be available to achieve the DWR functionality?

                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                            Definitely overprescribed. In my view, with the basis of our years of research, we now only adress so called essential uses of fluoro Chemistry for instance for work wear etc where the oil repellence is essential and a matter of Life an Death. Having said that the highly fluorinated chemistry especially C8 is still the best technology from a performance perspective but not from a toxicological and environmental perspective. So me and my researcher colleagues work hard to define the fine line between essential and non essential uses of fluorinated DWR treatments then for water repellent properties.

                              • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                Monica Becker

                                Thanks Stefan.  Can you say more about essential vs. non-essential uses?  Have you seen the viewpoint of brands change as we learn more about the impacts of perfluorinated chemistries?  If so, have these changing views affected use patterns?

                                 

                                Matt:  Would like to get your input too from Patagonia's perspective.

                                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                    Hi Monica!  Brands' viewpoints have absolutely changed over the past 7 years or so.  Non-Fluorinated DWR has been around for a long time, but it took global legislative changes (ie chemistries banned in countries) and the expose of long term health studies to "right the ship" of our industry and others.  Now, you see extreme focus on PFC's and their minimization/elimination, even outside of the PFOA/PFOS families.  In general, brands are taking a more prescribed approach to performance, chemistry, and the specifications they are willing to accept.

                                     

                                    As far as essential use goes, the Government requires oil repellency for most of its military clothing in the form of resistance to weapons lube, jet fuel, DEET and other challenges.  Additionally, the Oil and Gas industry requires oil repellency in its applications.

                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                      Essential uses mean where the water repellent property is a core property of the article e.g for professional use where water protection is essential.

                                       

                                      A non essential use is where the water repellent property is not in balance with the actual normal use of the article.

                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                      Is there a shade of grey between essential and non-essential?  If so, how is the function addressed in those cases?

                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                          Robert Buck

                                          The decision lies with the Brand who has to know and understand what the consumer wants and needs and how to translate that in to a product.

                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                              Joel Tickner

                                              Bob - one question (and perhaps for Matt too) is to what degree would the typical consumer see differences in performance (for example water repellency) between different coating materials or is it really when you get to more performance products that you see those differences. I guess the question would be to what degree are consumers demanding water repellency and what level of it are they requesting?  And are there times you could add in lots of repellency and it may make not a lot of difference - eg. riding a bike in the rain with water gushing towards the person.

                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                  Robert Buck

                                                  Joel.  My sense is consumers pay attention to whether their clothes look good or not, over time and in use.  DWR addresses their aesthetic desires.  Moreover, DWR allows for the design of colors that perhaps otherwise may not be possible.  A beautiful light pink dress that is ruined by its first stain is a catastrophy.  It all comes down to the consumer experience with a garment and the feedback brands have received over time.  Brands who receive an avalanche of complaints for staining or getting wet respond very quickly.

                                                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                    Great question, Joel.  Consumers range in their level of understanding about the chemistries themselves or even the term DWR, but all of them want the garment that they buy to do what it's supposed to do.  That could be keeping them warm and dry in high exertion Alpine activities, or it could be retaining its vibrant color over a reasonable lifetime.  Surface treatments go further than water repellency or beading -- stain repellency in low denier, lightweight down jackets or other non-waterproof/resistant styles is crucial as well. 

                                                     

                                                    In the case that a garment fails to meet the consumer's expectations, you can bet that we'll hear about it and act on it!

                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                  Essential uses mean where the water repellent property is a core property of the article e.g for professional use where water protection is essential.

                                                   

                                                  A non essential use is where the water repellent property is not in balance with the actual normal use of the article.

                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                  For "non-essential" uses, are there some cases where certain groups have resisted the change?  How was it overcome?

                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                      There are examples of that if I understood your question correct and that has maybe to do with the different perspectives and standards on performance in context to whats at least needed for an appropriate DWR treatment. I hope I understood your question correct. Overcome through knowledge transfer.

                                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                          Philippa Hill

                                                          The industry is working towards accepting the change, but also still needs to provide sufficient functionality for the consumers use and expectations. In some cases, non-essential uses involve a reassessment of the performance requirements necessary - do consumers who wear a rain coat to walk their dog need the same jacket as a consumer who is a Winter mountaineer? It is an evolving challenge for product developers to work alongside chemical suppliers.

                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                      Robert Buck

                                                      Great question. To me this is all about product design.  To be sure, this work is going on.  Like so many products of the industrial age, it’s really hard to reinvent entire supply chains based on processes that are decades if not centuries old.  It’s also hard to innovate on one operation in a complex manufacturing chain. Bringing new products and processes to commercial reality and scale remains a challenge. Viva the disruptive innovators!

                                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                          Christiana Briddell

                                                          Is the challenge of scaling up disruptive innovations a factor in industry preferring to select similar chemistries such as short-chain perfluorinated chemicals chemicals vs. entirely different technologies? How do you manage that change without settling for "regrettable substitutions"?

                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                              Robert Buck

                                                              Yes, the scaling up of disruptive innovations is always tough.  Changing well-heeled practices and relationships threatens the status quo.  None the less, I believe the best approach is to start small and act fast.  Too often we expect disruptive innovations to move to scale much too fast.  The short-chain alternatives had to occur because a firm commitment to stop making the long chains was set in place.  Avoiding regrettable substitution can be achieved when a transparent dialog among stakeholders occurs and as always we build on the knowledge we have gained.

                                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                          Ashley Baker

                                                          Thanks so much for taking the time to answer questions! I'm wondering about non-fluorinated alternatives which could include paraffin or nano-materials. What renewable alternatives are being researched, and how is the safety of something like a novel nano-material being assessed?

                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                              Robert Buck

                                                              Lots of non-fluorinated technologies are in commercial use today and it looks like many are in the pipeline.  Some are said by their suppliers to be based on renewable materials (bio-based).  All need to be carefully assessed for their potential hazards to workers, the environment and consumers.  Hazard testing regimes are an integral part of good product stewardship.

                                                              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                              How do the current non-fluorinated alternatives compare to the traditional fluorinated counterparts? Are they able to produce the same or better performance or is there still some work to be done? How much of the research and development of new water repellants is done in-house within a company vs. in collaboration with academic labs?

                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                  • Highly fluorinated side chain polymers have unique oleophobic and hydrophobic properties, which provide extremely
                                                                    low surface tension and consequently oil repellent properties. This cannot be achieved with other groups of chemicals. If so called non fluorinated alternative polymers are used, they may achieve water repellent properties but not oil repellent properties due to their higher Surface energy.

                                                                   

                                                                  • Some of the main alternative DWR chemistries are siloxane-based or hydrocarbon-based polymers. There are
                                                                    also hyperbranched hydrophobic polymers (dendritic, i.e., highly branched polymers) and specifically adjusted comb polymers as active components1.Less common are fluorinated siloxane structures of which we know almost nothing. There is also research on plasma technology that may be an alternative to modify textiles surfaces to DWR properties[1].

                                                                   

                                                                  Conclusively the only way forward from a scientific perspective to maintain oil repellent properties are to invent and apply new structures of fluoro chemistry, that can provide the same oil repellent performance as the current PFAS chemistry and that these new structures are scientifically shown less harmful to the environment and humans than the current PFAS chemistry. These efforts are still emerging and not in any way close to neither pilot nor full scale production as far as recent studies in these matters are concerned

                                                                  So since these topics are very complex the most efficient and fruitful way to make progress is a close research cooperation between industry, academia and society. That's how we normally work in our research projects.

                                                                   


                                                                  [1] www.supfes.eu

                                                                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                    Philippa Hill

                                                                    Good question as the industry and researchers are still striving to find non-fluorinated alternatives, Fluorinated chemistries have been traditionally used due to their un-rivalled functionality in repellency and durability. This is due to the chemical structure of fluorine and carbon. Non-fluorinated alternatives are being researched but have been shown to give good water repellency. Research and development is going on in both companies and academic labs. These are progressively working together.

                                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                      Robert Buck

                                                                      The marketplace has signaled that current commerical non-fluorinated products deliver water repellency but they are not very durable and some times an awful lot needs to be used.  The newest technologies coming in to the market are addressing the need for true durable water repellency and protection against water-based stains.  Of course, none provide oil repellency....that's the next nut to crack.

                                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                      Anna Ivanova

                                                                      I've heard of some biomimicry approaches in development, mostly based on the lotus leaf. Can anyone comment on how close to commercialization these are, or whether there are other biomimetic approaches that look promising?

                                                                      • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                        Monica Becker

                                                                        Beside the University of Leeds, are there other academic research centers doing applied research in this area? 

                                                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                            Philippa Hill

                                                                            There are many organisations, chemical companies and brands who are researching alternative repellent finishes, and there are many areas of this topic which require further research. Stefan is a researcher at Swerea and can say more on their work. The academic research at the University of Leeds is looking at post consumer care of repellent fabrics in outdoor apparel, working alongside outdoor brands – it is a PhD project. We are all contributing to the knowledge on fluorine and fluorine-free repellent treatments in the hope that alternative chemistries can give adequate functionality throughout the products use-phase.

                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                              Yes there are several universities and institutes in our netswork worldwide that work in their specific fields and cooperate and share data for new knowledge on these PFAS and novel PFAS systems. I can al least count more than 30 research centers World wide. A long list.

                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                              Would you comment on durability of repellant coatings and what is typically necessary in a textile application?  What is the relative durability of the topology approaches (e.g., lotus leaf) like coatings from Evonik on textiles?

                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                  Our own experience tells us through laboratory studies that physics DWR (dendrimers) have worse durability than chemical DWR e.g fluorinated chemistry, but that depends on how these DWRs are applied such as

                                                                                   

                                                                                  • Processing conditions e.g machinery, physical and chemical parameters etc.
                                                                                  • Type and structure of textile materials applied
                                                                                  • Type of DWR chemistry and recipe combinations.
                                                                                  • Use patterns e.g differences in washing instructions if the garment is washable or not
                                                                                  • Etc
                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                  David Constable

                                                                                  How does one balance the need for water resistance/repellant coatings with stain resistance?  Seems to me that you have competing functional needs of hydrophobicity and lipophobicity.

                                                                                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                    David Constable

                                                                                    What is being done, or what could be done, from a fiber and weave perspective or porous membrane perspective (other than fluorinated materials) to avoid the use of a coating?  Is this being looked at?  What have been the most promising?

                                                                                      • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                        Hi David, thanks for the thoughtful question.  Fiber weave and membrane selection are critical to the waterproof/water resistant system in conjunction with DWR selection.  In fact, you are now seeing companies like Columbia and W.L. Gore (Gore-Tex) foregoing the outer textile layer in its entirety and placing the membrane on the outside, providing a surface that does not require treatment and re-treatment of DWR chemistry. 

                                                                                         

                                                                                        There are many clever ways to approach the DWR problem, but, in short, textiles are a well understood, durable outer surface for technical apparel.  Weave, flatness, tightness, and myriad other factors will affect a textile's uptake and retention of a DWR chemistry in addition to its performance.  But, when that textile wets out (saturates) with cold rain water, the user will be in a compromised position for comfort or even their health, so it's best that the industry continues to be clever!

                                                                                      • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                        What metrics are used to determine the performance of a DWR? Are there specific tests/numbers a coating must pass to be considered for widespread application?

                                                                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                            Hi Olivia, there are a number of tests and standards used to evaluate DWR!  Of course, one must first understand the end use in which the DWR must perform, and one must also have an idea of how long they need it to last against various challenges.  A 30 day alpine expedition in a hardshell has a different set of exposure and needs than a day surfing in board shorts! 

                                                                                             

                                                                                            In general, DWR performance can be boiled down to a variety of performance attributes including wet pickup, oil repellency, durability to abrasion, durability to home laundry, and simple measures of water beading.  ASTM, ISO, JIS and other testing bodies have a multitude of standard test methods that can be used "as-is" or modified to evaluate a chemistry/textile combination for a specific end use. 

                                                                                             

                                                                                            Thanks for the great question!

                                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                              Robert Buck

                                                                                              Test methods are tailored to reflect the actual use of the DWR treated article.  The washing, abrasion etc. tests are set up to reflect consumer use.  Typical DWR water repellent performance specifications call for an 80 spray rating after 20 launderings.  The AATCC tests are the most widely used.

                                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                              Great that you arrange this discussion.

                                                                                              Yesterday I heards Stefan Posner talk about the different assessments of the different C4/C6/C8 chemistries and their alternatives. It seems that most of the alternatives haven't been tested enough to confirm that they are much better. Which research needs to be done now? Which piece of advice would you give to other outdoor brands and the wider community of the apparel sector in respect of finding a viable and "safer" way forward? How much collaboration between brands is taking place in this respect? Is this a topic that falls strictly under "IP" rights?

                                                                                              Thank you

                                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                  Robert Buck

                                                                                                  Begin by asking your suppliers for the data on the chemistry being used.  There is a lot of published data of fluorinated chemistries.  From a practical perspective, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has developed a list of questions a brand can ask suppliers, no chemistry knowledge required; and the Chemicals Management Module that lays out the knowledge and cooperative actions needed through the global supply chain (retailer-brand-supplier-chemical supplier) to better manage chemicals. Supply chain collaboration is flourishing between brands, suppliers and chemical suppliers to align on what to know and ask for via groups like the OIA, Zero-Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC), Sustainable Apparel Coalition and European Outdoor Group (EOG).

                                                                                                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                  We all understand that DWRs are needed in some applications, such as on tents to keep occupants dry and safe.  However, it seems DWRs are widely applied to apparel and equipment when this function is not needed.  Are steps being taken to reduce the use of DWRs where they are not necessary?

                                                                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                      Philippa Hill

                                                                                                      DWRs refers to the general class of Durable Water Repellents, including fluorine chemistry but also silicone chemistry and hydrocarbon chemistry. Fluorine is used for repellent finishing as it provides repellency to such a wide range of liquids, from oil-based to water, and has unrivalled properties. In some instances this is necessary, for example in technical textiles such as firefighters clothing. However fluorine chemistry has been applied to a wide range of consumer apparel for stain repellency as well as water repellency, this is marketed as an ‘easy-care’ finish. In some cases, the necessary functionality is being reassessed by manufacturers to see if alternative DWRS will provide the adequate repellency.

                                                                                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                          What are some critical factors that brands within the textile industry have to address when considering moving from fluorinated to non-fluorinated DWR finishes?

                                                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                              Hi Alex, great question.  Patagonia outlines its DWR stance and efforts here: The Cleanest Line: Our DWR Problem [Updated]

                                                                                                               

                                                                                                              In short, DWR performance must be evaluated as close to the end use as possible for its quality and performance.  Currently, Patagonia's evaluations have not uncovered a suitable candidate for the most technical outerwear applications, although some of the existing and new chemistries may be suitable for applications with different performance requirements. 

                                                                                                               

                                                                                                              In addition to the simple adoption or nomination of a chemistry, there are significant supply chain hurdles in changing chemical ingredients.  Brands must spend the time and energy to ensure that the performance they specify is being met and supported by diligent production partners.

                                                                                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                            Hi Sally!  As the events of the last decade have unfolded (regulation, litigation, exposure of health impacts), Brands have been forced to take a more prescribed approach to the broad application of PFC based chemistries.  Patagonia is committed to taking a prescribed approach to this application, picking the right chemistries (or none at all) based on the end use needs of the garment. 

                                                                                                             

                                                                                                            There are other driving forces behind over-application of DWR, including several customs duty rulings that provide preferential treatment to apparel that can be labeled "rainwear."  These rulings provide financial incentive for DWR to be applied to as many fabrics as possible in order to qualify for these duty reductions.

                                                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                              Blatant examples of over-application of PFASs are much easier to find in other industries, for example, use in non-durable products like cosmetics and ski-wax that transmit the chemicals readily into the environment during use.  A less-known example of over-application is from my industry where perfluorinated stain-resistance has been applied to nylon carpet yarn for years under several well know brand names.  Having water bead up on your carpet is a nice trick but resistance to acid-based stains is a must.  Yarn that matches PFC performance for acid stain resistance without PFCs is readily available from most carpet mills in the US and Europe.  It uses "sulfonation" or related technologies to permanently bind the "dye-sites" on the nylon that acid-based stains (or topically applied dyes) would normally bind to.  These yarns are typically premium priced, but come standard from our company (Interface).  Unfortunately, these processes are not readily applicable to apparel since carpet does not show oil-based stains the way more two-dimensional textiles do.  Sulfonation, according to friends in the textile industry, does not help resist oil-based staining.  Given the availability of integral stain resistance technologies, I would say use of PFCs on carpet fiber has become an example of over-application in the broader textile industry.

                                                                                                              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                              Are all fluorinated chemistries bad or are there new and unique ways to get C8 performance without the hazards associated with C8's? 

                                                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                  Robert Buck

                                                                                                                  No, all fluorinated chemistries are not bad.  We have learned and know that long-chain chemistries (as defined by OECD) need to go away.  As of 31 December 2015, the major global manufacturers of long-chain fluorinated DWR products ceased their production.  Regulatory actions have occurred and are in the offing to eliminate long-chain products.  The performance needs of the industry led to the development of short-chain fluorinated technologies as an alternative, for now, to be able to deliver the performance that was need and to be able to stop the manufacture and use of long-chain products.  The dialog has opened a vibrant discussion about what one needs to know about the short-chain or any other alternatives.  A very active conversation amongst the supply chain is ongoing and the door is wide open for innovation!

                                                                                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                      Joel Tickner

                                                                                                                      Bob - thanks for the thoughtful reply.  What the DWR example demonstrates, as some other chemical/functional challenges demonstrate, is the need for greater supply chain collaboration about solutions that meet product/performance needs while reducing potential impacts.  Can you comment on the DWR supply chain discussions and lessons learned that could help inform other challenges such as that of DWRs.

                                                                                                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                          Robert Buck

                                                                                                                          Sure.  the supply chain is lit up on this topic as the focus on chemicals that should be used (preferred) and not used (restricted) evolves toward concerted action that involves transparency of the chemicals used by suppliers to brands.  What I have learned is that when the importance and urgency is made clear by brands to suppliers and chemical suppliers, there is a will to act.  The common ask that is the Higg® Index and tools developed by the ZDHC like the MRSL are really helping align thinking and most important, action.  It's good business and growing. A most hopeful sign.

                                                                                                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                            Great points here.  As I've discussed a few times today, supply chain collaboration is absolutely critical in the adoption of any new chemistry.  In many cases, textile mills have been using the same chemical providers for 30+ years and are not necessarily incentivized to put the time and energy into process engineering for new chemistries on their tried-and-true finishing lines.  The tools Bob mentioned are helping facilitate alignment between brands and chemical provides, but it will always take a Brand insisting (and sometimes investing) for new chemistries of any type to be adopted.

                                                                                                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                          We have to remember that we are dealing with chemical mixtures that are added to the fabric in production. These mixtures are very complex in their composition and contain Everything from C4 to sometimes C14. What we have seen in our research is that these patterns of various chain length fluoro Chemicals may vary and additionally an undefined variety of fluorinated Chemicals end up in the fabric. Conclusively it is very hard to answer your question with this "real Life" perspective. If we look at isolated fluorinated Chemicals they represent different and/or similar hazards e.g endocrine toxic effects to a higher or lower extent. So it is not possible to answer your question in a specific way, sorry.

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          Concerning maintained C8 performance without C8 the only way forward from a scientific perspective to maintain oil repellent properties are to invent and apply new structures of fluoro chemistry, that can provide the same oil repellent performance as the current PFAS chemistry and that these new structures are scientifically shown less harmful to the environment and humans than the current PFAS chemistry. These
                                                                                                                          efforts are still emerging and not in any way close to neither pilot nor full scale production as far as recent studies in these matters are concerned.

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                          What are the fears associated with perfluoroalkyl acrylates - aside from PFOA contamination? Have they been proven to break down to PFOA in the environment?  Or are there other hazards associated with PFAA's?  Concerning available alternatives, could they potentially be worse for the environment if you have to use more (and possibly re-apply more often) to achieve the same performance as C8?   

                                                                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                              Robert Buck

                                                                                                                              fluorinated acrylate polymers are a key DWR technology.  A global focus on persistent long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids due to their PB&T properties has led to global action by manufacturers and regulators to eliminate these substances and others that may degrade to form them.  New technologies are being assessed for their PB&T properties and have shown that they are better, e.g., not B.  A fertile dialog about how to best use products to minimize environmental impacts has led to a strong dialog around and focus on best practices to accomplish this.  Third party assessors like bluesign® are providing valuable independent views to guide selection and practice.

                                                                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                  Philippa Hill

                                                                                                                                  Toxicology studies have suggested many ways in which humans have been exposed to PFASs (per- and polyfluorinated substances). Human exposure is not fully understood and main pathways remain unclear. With alternative chemistries, continuing assessment is exploring their impact on the environment. Many alternatives have been developed and, as you can understand, this is a complex research challenge to both analyse hazardous exposure from PFASs and alternatives.

                                                                                                                              • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                How exactly are PFCs from raincoats transmitted into the natural environment: manufacturing aerosols, wastewater, degradation from raincoat use, landfill run off? Are there resources that describe this mechanism?

                                                                                                                                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                    As far as we know from scientific studies there is probably degradation from the highly fluorinated side chain polymers at are
                                                                                                                                    actually the DWR treatment "layers" and/or impurities of precursors e.g telomeralcohols that are either emitted themselves or oxidized into
                                                                                                                                    perfluorinated acids e.g PFOA.  The other part of your question are possible pathways. For pefluorinated acids such as PFOA these substances are transported through the environmental water systems and eventually end up in the food chain and in our drinking water.  There are several studies available today that at least tries to describe these mechanisms and our research is one of them. It is complex but we know today that the oxidation of the so called telomer alchols and related precursors are oxidized in environment (new data indicate even during use) into perfluorinated acids

                                                                                                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                      Robert Buck

                                                                                                                                      Emissions may occur along the entire life-cycle, principally to water, also to air.  At manufacturing, during consumer use (e.g., washing) and upon disposal (landfill, incineration).  What gets emitted and what it can turn in to is what the focus is on.

                                                                                                                                      • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                        Philippa Hill

                                                                                                                                        This is an interesting, and ongoing, area of research as Stefan comments. There are many possible pathways throughout the life of your raincoat but not one known main way. Some research, to-date, has looked into the emissions in wastewater and in air, but it is largely dependent on the consumers use of the garment - how frequently it is laundered etc. The research at the University of Leeds is investigating this further over a longitudinal study, using variables such as wash temperature and methods of heat treatment researched to be used by consumers. The effluent wastewater will be studied for traces of fluorinated compounds.

                                                                                                                                        Since many industries use fluorinated compounds in their finishing and processing, research studies assessing sea water, emissions to air and health studies cannot be directly linked to outdoor apparel. The outdoor industry contributes to only a small percentage of the overall usage of fluorinated compounds. Research studies have focused on localized population samples. Due to the use within many industries, there is a undefined numbers of derivatives of PFASs, or fluorinated compounds, and the movement of these within the environment is somewhat unknown.

                                                                                                                                        Some aftercare treatments were traditionally fluorine based, and this may also have been a method of exposure.

                                                                                                                                        It must also be mentioned that analytical techniques for detection are continually developing.

                                                                                                                                      • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                        At University of Leeds, how much of the research on DWR is in collaboration with industry?  What sources of funding have supported your research?

                                                                                                                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                          What are the most promising types of material that are water repellent yet biodegradable? Following on Anna's question, is there a biomimetic approach to considering materials that satisfy these two goals?

                                                                                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                              Robert Buck

                                                                                                                                              Renewably based raw materials are advancing in to the toolbox of innovators inspired by the Lotus Leaf.  We see a number of commercial non-fluorinated DWR products that are said to be "bio-based."  Biodegradability remains a big challenge.  How to make a substance that is durable to laundering, abrasion, sunlight, dry cleaning and yet can "unzip" when desired at end of life.  A great challenge for the molecular architects!

                                                                                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                              Monica Becker

                                                                                                                                              A non-perflourinated plasma technology, developed by Europlasma, was just given the Golden ISPO Award 2016: Best Performance Footwear Component award at the ISPO sports and outdoor wear exhibition.  Patagonia uses a plasma technology for its Encapsil water-proof down -- also non-perflourinated.  What are the opportunities and limits to plasma technology?

                                                                                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                                  Hi Monica!  It is refreshing to see innovation continuing in the field of development and application of novel performance chemistries and textile finishes.  Plasma is an excellent medium for treating high surface area, small pore substrates in a highly efficient manner. 

                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                  Plasma treatment has been around for several decades and has been the subject of a multitude of research projects.  Currently, scaling up plasma deposition to the volumes that a textile mill requires has been a big challenge! 

                                                                                                                                                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                                                                                                                                                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                                    Philippa Hill

                                                                                                                                                    As Matt says, scaling up the process is the main issue for this chemistry application to be used. It has been utilised successfully for processing of items, such as shoes, but a roll-to-roll process for fabrics poses a bigger challenge. Durability of the plasma finish is also something to consider, and the choice, or make-up, of chemistry for the initial gas input to the process.

                                                                                                                                                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                                    Olivia Lenz

                                                                                                                                                    Is the basis of PFC's performance in the electronegativity of the fluorine? Or what physically/fundamentally makes it both oleophobic and hydrophobic?

                                                                                                                                                      • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                                        Highly fluorinated side chain polymers have unique oleophobic and hydrophobic properties, which provide extremely
                                                                                                                                                        low surface tension and consequently oil repellent properties. This cannot be achieved with other groups of chemicals. If so called non fluorinated alternative polymers are used, they may achieve water repellent properties but not oil repellent properties due to their higher Surface energy.

                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                        Some of the main alternative DWR chemistries are siloxane-based or hydrocarbon-based polymers.There are also hyperbranched hydrophobic polymers (dendritic, i.e., highly branched polymers ) and specifically adjusted comb polymers as active components1. Less common are fluorinated siloxane structures of which we know almost nothing. There is also research on plasma technology that may be an alternative to modify textiles surfaces to DWR properties

                                                                                                                                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                                            Olivia Lenz

                                                                                                                                                            Hmmmm, I guess I still don't fully understand how surface tension works, and thus how the fluorine lowers it. It seems to me that there would be some partial hydrogen bonding between the partial neg F and partial pos H in the water molecule? Clearly that doesn't happen, but I am still struggling to understand the fundamental reasons on why fluorine is so fantastic.

                                                                                                                                                              • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                                                One of the fundamental laws of physics states that every system strives for a minimal surface energy. Therefore when a PFAS is coated on a textile substrate and exposed to water with its surface tension of 72 mN/m or oily substances with surface tensions of 20 mN/m and more, they will not spread on the textile surface. The consumer can observe this phenomenon as ”water and oil repellence”.

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                Spreading coefficient : S = gSV - ( gLV + gSL )

                                                                                                                                                                S = solid,
                                                                                                                                                                L = liquid,

                                                                                                                                                                A = air

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                where :

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                SA = Surface energy of the substrate (e.g polymer surfaces)

                                                                                                                                                                LA = Surface tension of the liquid

                                                                                                                                                                SL = Interfacial tension

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                As can be seen from the formula for spreading S = gc - ( gL + gcL ) it is observed that if the surface energy of the substrate is lowered sufficiently, the liquid will not be able to wet the surface.

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                Practice shows that it is not sufficient to have only terminal CF3 groups in a fluorinated chemical. Optimum reduction of the surface
                                                                                                                                                                energy gc is achieved with perfluorinated chains with a sufficient chain length to obtain a large enough density of fluorinated carbons on the surface.

                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                So these properties described above are unique for the carbon --- fluorina covalent bond in a highly fluorinated structure.

                                                                                                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                                                  Robert Buck

                                                                                                                                                                  In the grand scheme of the universe as described in the Periodic Table of the Elements (the building blocks of all things), the element Fluorine (F) sits is a truly unique spot looking down upon all others.  It is from this spot and with the fundamental properties it is embued with that make it deliver truly amazing properties.  One of these properties is its desire to push away (repel) others.  When lots of fluorine is attached to carbon, this becomes evident in oil and water beading on a surface that has lots of fluorine.  Simply put, "you can't touch it." 

                                                                                                                                                            • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                                              Olivia Lenz

                                                                                                                                                              Is there any sense that perhaps major companies coming together to fund some intensive research on this topic would more quickly move the technology forward than the current silo-ish approach? Or is the competition landscape between brands such that a cooperative effort would not be realistic?

                                                                                                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                                                  Hi Olivia, excellent observation here.  The Apparel Industry must adopt the open innovation mindset to solve these big problems, whether that means brands collaborating with each other or with chemistry partners.  Patagonia's Mission Statement reads: "build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire solutions to the Environmental Crisis."  As you can see, Patagonia's success is not just limited to its own adoption of better chemistries and practices, but broad adoption throughout our industry and others'. 

                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                  Competition is a huge factor.  Most companies will favor their own exclusivity (often in perpetuity) as a competitive advantage, which hinders true collaborative efforts.  Patagonia's strategy revolves around building partnerships with like-minded individuals and organizations.  That is, the discussion of collaboration vs. exclusivity is an easy one, because we are both trying to achieve the same Mission.

                                                                                                                                                                    • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                                                      Christiana Briddell

                                                                                                                                                                      What would help facilitate these kinds of discussions or collaborations? What are the major incentives for change?

                                                                                                                                                                        • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                                                          Robert Buck

                                                                                                                                                                          Multi-stakeholder associations like the Outdoor Industry Association, Sustainable Apparel Coalition and ZDHC are fostering this type of dialog by bringing together supply chain partners as well as stakeholders in pre-competitive spaces where this dialog can flourish.

                                                                                                                                                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                                                            A little bit of humility and agreement on common ground!  But seriously, incentives for change can come in a number of different forms.  Legislation after a lack of publicly available hazard information has led us to the current situation on DWR -- a situation as major as a country or group of countries banning the import of a chemistry or goods that were manufactured in a site where that chemistry is present.

                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                            Patagonia prefers that these incentives come from passionate leaders at companies who determine to focus their efforts on identifying the crisis, then building solutions to suit it.  This proactive approach leads to more opportunity for connections with Brands and chemistry suppliers and common ground for true collaboration.  Patagonia's goal is to prove that Brands and chemistry providers can "do good" while running a very good business.  All too often we hear about the challenges of implementing green chemistry, and how those challenges are directly related to the lack of insistence from the company's executives or shareholders.  Only when those companies break that paradigm will they be able to focus their energy on "doing good!"

                                                                                                                                                                          • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                                                            Thank Matt! I have a follow up question.

                                                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                                                            What is Patagonia doing to incentive other companies in the outdoor industry to invest in alternative technologies? It seems that many other apparel companies would wait for your efforts to be proven before they adopt them.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                                                                Great thought, Evan.  As I alluded to in other responses today, Patagonia's tact is to lead by example.  We are proving that companies can invest in furthering new technology development and proliferation while building top-notch products and running a great business!  Patagonia has filled its toolbox with instruments such at its $20 Million & Change venture fund, 1% for the Planet, Environmental Grants, and becoming a registered Benefit Corporation, and we have learned to use these tools effectively while growing our business.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                                                                Monica Becker

                                                                                                                                                                                Here’s another view, building on what Matt wrote….

                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                In developing collaborative efforts involving competing brands, such as you are describing Oliva, the GC3 has found that if the subject of the collaboration is “pre-competitive,” or not focused on something that the brands are competing on, that can be a sweet spot for collaboration.  Based on our discussions with apparel and footwear brands, DWRs are viewed as a highly competitive area by some brands and not so much by others.  For the former, these brands want to keep exclusivity, particularly in the early  stages of adoption of a new technology, and more so when they co-invested in the development and commercialization of the tech.  If they invested, they want to recoup investment through brand image and performance benefits.  Though eventually these brands may want to see it more widely adopted to bring down the cost through scale and increase the positive societal impact.

                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                The GC3 is considering a collaborative effort on DWRs, similar to the one we are doing on now on preservatives for personal care and household products.

                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                For the preservative project, the brands involved (e.g., P&G, J&J, Unilever, Method, Seventh Generation) have agreed that the preservative space is pre-competitive for them and they are actively involved in our collaboration to accelerate the development of new, safe preservative technologies.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                                                                Philippa Hill

                                                                                                                                                                                Olivia, this is a great perspective. I think that the research has evolved so quickly, and the legislation and restrictions alongside, that there have been little pockets of research stemming from different companies. Now, as the challenge to find fluorine-free alternatives continue, I think large companies are increasingly becoming aware of the need to collaborate, particularly with research centres. As this thread shows, there are many areas of this topic which require further research as a whole.

                                                                                                                                                                              • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                                                                Olivia Lenz

                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks all for your perspectives and answers to our questions! Lots to think on and explore on this topic.

                                                                                                                                                                                • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?
                                                                                                                                                                                  Anna Ivanova

                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks to everyone who came and asked such thoughtful and varied questions, and to our panelists for their detailed answers! We hope to see you at our next Ask the Innovators event. Follow the Green Chemistry Innovation Forum for other conversations around green chemistry, and subscribe to the Green Chemistry Innovation Portal mailing list to be notified of the next Ask the Innovators discussion.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Re: Ask the Innovators: How Green is Your Raincoat?

                                                                                                                                                                                    Chemical Watch | News Item | Columbia Sportswear introduces PFC-free rain jacket - June 23, 2016

                                                                                                                                                                                    https://chemicalwatch.com/48212/columbia-sportswear-introduces-pfc-free-rain-jac ketCached Copy 

                                                                                                                                                                                     


                                                                                                                                                                                    Description: 

                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                    Chemical Watch: Global risk and regulation news

                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                    Columbia Sportswear introduces PFC-free rain jacket

                                                                                                                                                                                    Jacket's outer membrane removes need for DWR treatment

                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                    23 June 2016 / Alternatives assessment & substitution, Textiles & apparel, United States
                                                                                                                                                                                    Products - OutDry Extreme Eco Shell ©Columbia Sportswear
                                                                                                                                                                                    Kelly Franklin
                                                                                                                                                                                    Editor, North America


                                                                                                                                                                                    US company Columbia Sportswear has developed what it calls the industry’s “first high-performance, environmentally friendly” rain jacket made without intentionally added perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).
                                                                                                                                                                                    In recent years, the outdoor industry has largelyconverted from long-chain (C8) to short-chain PFCs in durable water repellent (DWR) treatments. But many manufacturers have resisted calls from environmental groups to immediately move away from bioaccumulative fluorinated chemistries, saying that current alternatives do not offer adequate performance.


                                                                                                                                                                                    In a statement, Columbia said the issue of PFCs in rainwear was "an environmental problem that has been widely acknowledged by top brands in the industry, but none of them have been able to solve the issue without impacting performance, until now.”


                                                                                                                                                                                    Technical aspects


                                                                                                                                                                                    The company’s OutDry Extreme ECO technology, available from spring 2017, uses a durable waterproof membrane that does not rely on an outer fabric layer treated with a topical coating of DWR.
                                                                                                                                                                                    An abrasion-resistant waterproof membrane has been placed on the outside of the garment, replacing the outer fabric layer. According to a company spokesperson, this removes the risk of the jacket “wetting out” like traditional rainwear does when the DWR wears off.


                                                                                                                                                                                    The jacket’s fabric is 100% recycled polyester. It is also not dyed, which the company says reduces the water, energy and chemical use in the manufacture process. It said the jacket’s technology took three years to develop.


                                                                                                                                                                                    Going PFC-free


                                                                                                                                                                                    Columbia says it is “very conscious” that while the new product gives the company a PFC-free alternative, “it does not solve the problem PFC issue entirely.” The company will continue to use short-chain PFCs in “a majority” of its waterproof products, it says.


                                                                                                                                                                                    Nor is Columbia the first brand to introduce a PFC-free rain jacket. UK brand Páramo Directional Clothing, for example, has eliminated PFCs from its supply chain, and signed up to Greenpeace’s Detox campaign.


                                                                                                                                                                                    But the company told Chemical Watch that the waxes, oils and silicones that may be used in place of a PFC-DWR “can be penetrated by oil, including lotions and oils from skin, and are very susceptible to wet out.” Because Columbia’s technology places the membrane on the outer layer of the garment, it does not require DWR to prevent wet-out. This results in higher performance than those using PFC-free DWR, it says.


                                                                                                                                                                                    When some manufacturers reference “PFC-free”, it added, they’re speaking only about the DWR treatment, which may not account for the fact that there are PFCs in the membrane.


                                                                                                                                                                                    Broader view


                                                                                                                                                                                    Beth Jensen, director of sustainable business innovation at the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), said Columbia’s technology is “an excellent example of the re-thinking of the traditional product design process” that members of the organisation seek for transitioning away from PFCs.


                                                                                                                                                                                    The next steps, added Ms Jensen, will be to determine the scalability of the solution – such as costs, manufacturing capability and availability, and its compatibility with other types of products and performance requirements. “The industry is eager to implement less impactful solutions for the products’ waterproofing needs,” she said.


                                                                                                                                                                                    Mirjam Kopp, project leader for Greenpeace’s Detox Outdoor project, said Columbia's new product has “many great features” that represent a “first step from Columbia to tackle the issue of PFCs in their products and supply chain”.


                                                                                                                                                                                    But she said it is “proof that tech innovation to eliminate toxic chemicals, such as PFCs, is already available in the outdoor and textile sector”. Greenpeace has called on the company to catch up with frontrunners in the industry, like Páramo.


                                                                                                                                                                                    Columbia said it is its "challenge and opportunity to educate consumers about why PFC alternatives matter, and why it’s in our collective interests to pursue [alternative] solutions”.