Environmentally hazardous manufacturing of clothes to be researched out of existence 

Today, one component of the manufacturing process of clothes with water-repellent finishing is the environmentally harmful substance fluorocarbon. In order to avoid using substances which are harmful to the environment, Smart Textiles at the University of Borås is working together with OrganoClick, a company developing environmentally friendly products, to find alternative manufacturing methods.

Techniques for applying a water-repellent finish for garments almost always involve the use of fluorocarbons. Although fluorocarbon-free alternatives are available, they are not considered to stand up to the requirements on materials used in functional clothing.
– Many companies would benefit greatly from finding alternative finishing methods, says Susanne Nejderås, Deputy Process Manager at Smart Textiles.

In addition to Organoclick, the project involves a number of outdoor clothing brands such as Haglöfs, Houdini, Bergans and Norröna. Klättermusen AB has also become involved in the project and emphasises the need to find alternative finishing methods. 
– We think it is very unfortunate that one of the most important functions of outdoor clothing – protection against moisture – has made the outdoor clothing business dependent on fluorocarbons. Through this collaboration with suppliers and colleagues in the business, we want to create alternatives which are competitive on the market and that stand up to our ambitious environmental standards as well as our high demands on functionality and safety. This would not only benefit us but many of the players on the market, Joel Svedlund at Klättermusen AB says.

The pilot study is expected to receive further funding by the EU and continue to develop. One application, signed by the two VINNVÄXT initiatives Peak Innovation and Smart Textiles, has already been submitted and, if approved, may bring in 20 million SEK worth of funding for the next 2½-3 years. An answer is expected in the spring of 2013. The pilot study concludes by the end of 2013.

Facts on fluorocarbons:

Fluorocarbons is a group of substances with excellent water and dirt-repellent properties. This makes them well suited for uses such as waterproofing of functional clothing such as raincoats. However, they also have a number of less desirable properties: they break down slowly in nature, impede the ability to procreate in mammals, are suspected to cause cancer and travel long distances from their places of manufacture. Although many fluorocarbons are prohibited by law, the problem still has not been solved as many legal substances used today originate from prohibited fluorocarbons used in the manufacturing process.

All companies/organisations involved in the project: OrganoClick, Smart Textiles (University of Borås), Swerea IVF, Klättermusen, Haglöfs, Houdini, Bergans and Norröna.

Contact: Susanne Nejderås, Smart Textiles. Phone: +46 (0)702-16 84 55.

This material is free for publication.

Text: Therese Rosenblad