There’s been big news recently from Gore, the company behind GORE-TEX waterproofing. It’s released a brand new waterproof material, one that apparently offers the same lightweight and breathable protection as the GORE-TEX fabrics everyone will be familiar with, but with a fraction of the carbon footprint.
In recent years, the outdoor industry has been working almost as a collective in an attempt to solve the problems associated with perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) when used in the manufacture of technical fabrics. The chemicals, it has been found, are eco-hazardous and also highly persistent, meaning they can hang around in water systems for decades.
Over the last few years, while many brands moved away from using PFCs altogether, Gore, not convinced by the performance of the alternatives available, instead focussed on producing fabrics containing PFCs that are of no environmental concern. As it transpires, however, the company was also working away in the background to come up with this new alternative – one that’s PFC-free and meets its own standards of performance. According to Gore, the research and development has in fact been going on for 12 years.
Gore’s new ePE membrane is not only made through a non-fluorinated process but it’s also made using far less material (in other words, less plastic) than previous Gore-tex fabrics – and, crucially, without any decrease in durability or performance.
We recently spoke to Ross MacLaine, Gore’s Sustainability leader, who filled us in on the development and the company’s ambitions with it going forward.
The main material in this new fabric is polyethylene, a material that’s been around for a while and that’s often used for things like plastic bags, wire insulation and film. What Gore has done to make it suitable for outdoor wear, however, is they’ve add a level of polyurethane to it and developed a way of expanding the materials in order to create microscopic holes for moisture vapour to pass through.
This new ePE fabric has already been picked up by brands including adidas, Arc’teryx, Dakine, Patagonia, Reusch, Salomon, and Ziener and products will start to appear from A/W22 onwards – that’s in garments, gloves, footwear and more.
Don’t expect Gore-tex as you know it to change though. According to the brand, the existing ePTFE fabrics we’re all familiar with will continue on and the new ePE fabric will, for now, just be an extra option for consumers.
Gore had already set a sustainability goal of reducing its product-related carbon emissions by 35% by 2030 and this new development takes them a huge step closer towards that target. The aim beyond that, they say, is to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Gore’s new ePE membrane*:
- Leverages high strength-to-weight ratio to create extremely lightweight and thin composites that are still mechanically robust.
- Enables durable performance and a low environmental footprint.
- When combined with Polyurethane (PU), the result creates a durably waterproof, windproof and breathable membrane.
- Combination of the ePE material and low membrane mass results in a lower carbon footprint, as measured by Higg MSI.
- Advances Gore Fabrics Division’s goal for being free of PFCs of Environmental Concern* (PFCEC) over the lifecycle of its consumer products.
(*Information provided by Gore)
|READ MORE: GORE-TEX.COM|
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