GORE Completes Elimination of PFOA from Raw Material of its Functional Fabrics

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ELKTON, MD, January 10, 2014 – GORE, inventors of the GORE-TEX® brand product technology for comfort and protection, announces it has successfully completed a project to eliminate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from all raw materials used in the manufacturing of weatherproof functional fabrics. This affects all membranes and DWR (Durable Water Repellency) treatments for the entire range of fabrics used in finished products in categories, including mountaineering, running, cycling, fashion and lifestyle garments, footwear for outdoor sports and casual wear, and work wear for fire and police services. GORE is one of the first companies in the sector to successfully changeover to PFOA-free raw materials for its entire range of textiles.

PFOA has been detected in the raw materials used in industries such as carpet making, automotive, food packaging and outdoor sectors. PFOA has recently been added to the List of Substances of Very High Concern of the European Union REACH regulation, which is currently working on a set of directives.

According to Bernhard Kiehl, leader of the GORE Fabrics Division sustainability team, “GORE has been actively pursuing an environmental program for nearly 30 years. GORE’s strong focus over the years on Life Cycle Assessment has shown that the single most effective means of reducing the environmental impact of a product is to maximize its lifetime. Durable performance is indispensable if functional jackets and footwear are expected to last. For this reason, it was important to us to eliminate PFOA from our raw materials without compromising the performance people have come to expect from our products.”
Ten years ago GORE Fabrics progressively started to eliminate PFOA from its products. In 2011, it upgraded its durable water repellency (DWR) treatment for its consumer fabrics to more environmentally friendly alternatives. The process of eliminating PFOA from its products was completed by the end of 2013.

More than 50 percent of the laminates volume is bluesign® approved
GORE products have always been environmentally friendly and safe for consumers, even before PFOA had been eliminated from the raw material. This is confirmed by its conformity to the bluesign® standard and the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 for textile product safety.

Both GORE-TEX® and WINDSTOPPER® consumer garments meet the criteria of OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, which since 1992 has tested fabrics to ensure that they do not pose a health risk according to the requirements laid down by statutory regulations. Since 2010, the GORE Fabrics Division has been a system partner of bluesign® technologies, meaning that GORE has introduced the bluesign® standard to its entire garment manufacturing plants worldwide. In addition to rigorously regulating the use of chemicals in products, the bluesign® system also limits emissions to water, air and land and has stringent guidelines concerning the health and safety of employees and the protection of the environment along the entire supply chain. bluesign® certification does not only mean that the bluesign® requirements are met in GORE’s own manufacturing processes, it means that GORE’s fabric suppliers also meet these requirements. Since autumn/winter 2013/14, over 50 percent of the total volume of consumer laminates produced by GORE has been certified in accordance with this strict standard. “We work very closely with our suppliers to continue to increase the number of bluesign® certified products,” points out Kiehl.

Life Cycle Assessment: long lifetime of a functional jacket is the most effective mean to reduce the environmental impact
GORE has never confined itself to meeting existing product safety and environmental standards. It has always strived to set the standards in research and development. A key project and cornerstone of GORE’s environmental approach is the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), adopted in 1992. It has continued to develop since. LCA (ISO 14041) is a global standard that is used to assess the total environmental influences of a finished product and considers all ecological factors, including the potential impact on health and the ecosystem (“from cradle to grave”). LCA results show that the single most effective means of reducing the environmental impact of functional outerwear is to enhance its product lifetime. “The durability of our fabrics plays a key role in the lifetime of a finished product and therefore also to the efficient use of resources. The durable functionality of our products represents a decisive competitive advantage for us, both ecologically and financially,” concludes Bernhard Kiehl.

About W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc.
Gore is a technology-driven company focused on discovery and product innovation. Well known for waterproof, breathable GORE-TEX® fabric, the company’s portfolio includes everything from high-performance fabrics and implantable medical devices to industrial manufacturing components and aerospace electronics. Headquartered in the United States, Gore posts annual sales of more than $3 billion and employs more than 10,000 associates with manufacturing facilities in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan and China, and sales offices around the world. In Europe, Gore started its first business operations only a few years after the Enterprise's founding in 1958. Gore now has locations--sales offices as as well as production facilities--in the key European countries dedicated to serving the markets of all of Gore's product divisions. Gore is one of a select few companies to appear on all of the U.S. “100 Best Companies to Work For” lists since the rankings debuted in 1984. For several years now, Gore has also been voted one of the best workplaces in Europe and has been ranked on top workplace lists in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Sweden. Learn more at gore.com.

Press contact
Cynthia Amon, Gore Public Relations
410-506-2647; cell: 443-553-0333
camon@wlgore.com

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