PERFLUORINATED AND POLYFLUORINATED CHEMICALS (PFCs)

Mammut has set itself the strategic goal of progressively switching all waterproofing treatments for its clothing range to PFC-free alternatives by 2022.

To reconcile our demanding customers' high requirements and expectations for our products as closely as possible with a switch to PFC-free alternatives, we are following a performance-oriented approach.

Mammut has divided its entire clothing portfolio into three performance segments. We have defined minimum requirements for the water-repellent treatment for each segment, based on the intended applications and expected usage intensities, and set ambitious but realistic deadlines for the elimination of PFCs from the supply chain. This progressive, performance-oriented approach allows us to ensure the fastest possible progress with the PFC phase-out, while still providing our customers with performance tailored optimally to their needs when they purchase a Mammut product.

For more detailed information on Mammut's PFC strategy, please refer to our PFC Policy.

You can also find regular updates on the implementation of the strategy and interesting background information on our PFC blog.

What are "PFCs"?

Perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are a group of over 800 substances. As well as their effectiveness in repelling water, dirt and oil, they also offer high mechanical, thermal and chemical stability. Thanks to these unique properties, PFCs are used in a wide range of products, from Teflon pans to cellphone displays, pizza cartons and paper cups.
 
In the outdoor industry, PFCs are used as waterproofing treatments capable of withstanding multiple washes and repeated intensive use. As a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) protective layer, PFCs are responsible for the typical beading effect and prevent the outermost layer of fabric from becoming saturated with water or heavily soiled.

To date, PFC treatments are unsurpassed in terms of safety, performance, quality and durability.

Why do Mammut jackets contain PFCs?

In the outdoor industry, PFCs are used as waterproofing treatments capable of withstanding multiple washes and repeated intensive use. As a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) protective layer, PFCs are responsible for the typical beading effect and prevent the outermost layer of fabric from becoming saturated with water or heavily soiled.

This is important as dry and clean outer materials help to preserve the product's functionality – perspiration is wicked outwards in the form of water vapor, keeping the wearer warm and dry. And it's not just about comfort. In particular in high alpine terrain, dry and warm clothing is important for the wearer's performance, safety and health.

To date, PFC treatments are unsurpassed in terms of safety, performance, quality and durability.

Does the membrane contain PFCs?

As well as being applied as a waterproofing treatment, PFCs are also an auxiliary material in the production of membranes made from expanded polytetrafluorethylene (ePTFE), used in our GORE-TEX® products.

PTFE is a non-toxic and insoluble fluorinated polymer that does not interact with organisms. It is very chemically stable and its decomposition does not cause it to develop into a source of PFCs in water or the environment.
Mammut's proprietary DRYtech membranes are based on polyurethane and are therefore completely free from PFCs both during production and as finished products.

Do footwear and backpacks contain PFCs?

PFCs are also used in some cases in treatments for footwear or backpacks to repel water, dirt and oil. In terms of product requirements and supply chains, these product groups are very different to our clothing range. Mammut is therefore drawing up a separate strategy for handling PFCs in these product groups. Publication is scheduled for 2017.

Why are PFCs problematic?

PFCs can make their way into the environment either directly during production or indirectly through the use and disposal of products containing PFCs. Their high mechanical, thermal and chemical stability means that PFCs are difficult or impossible to break down in the environment and can therefore accumulate.

To protect the environment, Mammut is working to eliminate PFCs from its supply chain. Mammut is pursuing the ambitious goal of progressively switching all waterproofing treatments for its entire clothing range to PFC-free alternatives by 2022.
There is no health risk to wearers of functional jackets as, according to the current state of knowledge, the substances cannot pass through the skin to the human body.

Do PFC-treated jackets pose a risk to the wearer?

No. According to the current state of knowledge, PFCs cannot pass through the skin to the human body. There are no indications of any direct risks to health from wearing clothing containing PFCs.

Our products comply with all statutory limits.

Is the use of PFCs regulated?

The short-chain PFCs currently used in the outdoor industry are not regulated.

In the case of long-chain PFCs, which are no longer used in the outdoor industry, regulatory thresholds apply for the two side products perfluorooctane sulfonate acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
Use of PFOS is restricted according to European regulations (threshold of 1 μg/m2). Only Norway currently has a threshold for the use of PFOA, but efforts are currently being made at an EU level to regulate PFOA and related substances.

Are there any alternatives to PFC waterproofing treatments?

There are currently some PFC-free water-repellent treatments based on paraffin, silicone or dendrimers. In comparison to PFC-based DWR treatments, these still present drawbacks in terms of their water-repellent and dirt-repellent performance, in particular durability, and have no oil-repellent effect. This reduced effectiveness in repelling dirt and the absence of any oil-repellent effect results in faster contamination of the outer materials and membranes, which in turn negatively impacts on the product's functionality and durability. These restrictions mean that the currently available PFC-free alternatives are suitable mainly for products with lower performance requirements. However, the development of PFC-free alternatives is very dynamic and new and improved products are constantly appearing on the market. We are therefore assuming that in time PFC-free alternatives will be capable of meeting performance, safety and durability requirements in higher performance segments as well.

Are there alternatives for membranes?

In the case of membranes, alternatives exist which are completely free from PFCs during production, e.g. products based on polyurethane (PU), polyester or silicone.
Mammut's proprietary DRYtech membranes are based on polyurethane and are therefore completely free from PFCs both during production and as finished products.

What strategy Mammut is following in relation to PFC?

To protect the environment, Mammut is working to eliminate PFCs from its supply chain. Mammut is pursuing the ambitious goal of progressively switching all treatments for its entire clothing range to PFC-free alternatives by 2022. To reconcile our demanding customers' high requirements and expectations for our products as closely as possible with a switch to PFC-free alternatives, we are following a performance-oriented approach.

Mammut has divided its entire clothing portfolio into three performance segments. We have defined minimum requirements for the water-repellent treatment for each segment, based on the intended applications and expected usage intensities, and set ambitious but realistic deadlines for the elimination of PFCs from the supply chain. This progressive, performance-oriented approach allows us to ensure the fastest possible progress with the PFC phase-out, while still providing our customers with performance tailored optimally to their needs when they purchase a Mammut product.
For more detailed information on Mammut's PFC strategy, please refer to our PFC Policy.

Why is Mammit not stoppping the use of PFC immediatly?

The currently available PFC-free alternatives are suitable mainly for products with lower performance requirements. We therefore feel it would be inadvisable to immediately switch the entire product portfolio to PFC-free alternatives as this would involve significant impairments in the reliability, safety, quality and durability of our products. As a market leader in technical mountain sports equipment, we accept no compromises in relation to our customers' safety: they must be able to rely on their Mammut equipment in all situations. In terms of quality and durability too, we have always set the highest standards for our products. Because we are convinced that quality and durability provide the greatest sustainability. However, the development of PFC-free alternatives is very dynamic and new and improved products are constantly appearing on the market. We are therefore assuming that in time PFC-free alternatives will be capable of meeting performance, safety and durability requirements in higher performance segments as well. The planned progressive, performance-oriented approach for the PFC phase-out is allowing us to reconcile the high requirements for our products as closely as possible with a switch to PFC-free alternatives.

How do we as a company take responsibility for the use of these chemicals?

For this purpose, when considering the entire product life cycle, the quality and durability of a product stand out by far as the most important factors in reducing the ecological footprint. Buying a high-quality jacket which performs its function over a long period of time is more resource-efficient and environmentally friendly than purchasing one that needs frequent reimpregnation or several replacements over the same period. We are therefore convinced that quality and durability provide the greatest sustainability. For this reason, we feel it would be inadvisable to immediately switch the entire product portfolio to PFC-free alternatives as this would involve significant impairments in the quality and durability of our products.

To date, there is also a lack of independent scientific studies proving that the alternatives available on the market are actually more environmentally friendly than PFCs.

According to the current state of knowledge, there is no health or safety risk for wearers of functional clothing. Our products comply with all statutory limits.

Do PFC pose any risk in production facilities?

Viewed across the entire life cycle, the environmental risks of PFC usage are by far the greatest during the production process. Mammut therefore places great emphasis on the consistent application of best practices and maximum process control for PFCs in the supply chain. The use of low-emission PFCs, controlled procedures and comprehensive emission protection measures will specifically eliminate environmental risks and minimize the potentially negative impacts on the environment of PFC processing.

Since January 2011, Mammut has committed itself to the bluesign® standard, currently the strictest environmental standard in the industry. The bluesign® approach is based on input-stream management, i.e. the substances and amounts used, wastewater, emissions, etc. are inspected not only in the case of the final product, but also at all preliminary stages - down to the dyer and chemical supplier. Together with bluesign technologies, we are pursuing the long-term goal of changing our entire production chain to ensure that chemicals with a critical effect on humans or the environment according to the bluesign® standard do not enter the manufacturing process in the first place.