Some of our products are less treated with DWR than others, but the common thing is that the treatment substance is fluorocarbon-free
Outdoor products are normally being treated with different substances so that they become water and dirt repellent, commonly known as DWR (Durable Water Repellency). Natural waxes, oils, and human-made chemicals can be used. The benefit in chemicals has been superior functionality and ease of application, together with price. Unfortunately, these chemicals, based on fluorocarbon-chemistry, are also harmful to both environment and people, being persistent and toxic. Certain fluorocarbons are already forbidden to use, and the list is growing. Further, this is an area where pre-caution for potentially harmful substances is called for, so there is a real need to switch to fluorocarbon-free DWRs.
We have to live with the downside that similar functionality is not yet found. But not all of us work in extreme conditions where the most demanding waterproof equipment is needed. Icebug makes outdoor products for many different occasions, from ultra-trail running to daily dog walking and mail delivering. Some of our products are less treated with DWR than others, but the common thing is that the treatment substance is fluorocarbon-free. This we ensure by nominating our DWR-supplier and testing the products before shipping from the factory.
We’re also participating in POPFREE which is a three-year project with the overall goal of creating a transition in sectors using PFCs to feasible non-fluorinated alternatives. Icebug joined this project as one of fourteen brands in the outdoor and clothing industry working to phase out fluorinated Durable Water Repellency (DWR) treatments used in our products. The total number of brands is over 30, ranging from cosmetics to the paper industry. More on the project can be found on the website.
Apart from the durable water repellency treatments, there is another potential source of harmful PFCs from Icebug products, and that is in the PTFE material of the membrane of the Gore-tex products. If the shoes are burnt after being disposed, PFCs can be released. We have decided to keep working with Gore fabrics as Gore has committed to eliminate hazardous PFCs from the type of laminate we use (general outdoor) by end of 2020. We believe that we can have a stronger impact pushing this topic from the brand customer perspective as well.