bergans fabrics

How we work with the PFAS Challenge

Bergans is working every day to identify sustainable solutions. We live from and for the great outdoors and have, through our Code of Conduct, committed ourselves to an extended responsibility for the social and environmental effects that we and our industry exposes the world to.

 Because the sports and outdoor pursuits industry is associated with nature and health, it is natural for us to lead the way as a good example. However, it is a fact that 95% of PFAS in the world are derived from production processes other than the ones used in the sports industry. It is therefore crucial that manufacturers of all types of products also take their share of responsibility.

Our response: a good, long-lasting solution

Chemicals that contain PFAS are used in a treatment that makes the surface of fabrics enduringly dirt and water-repellent. The treatment is described as Durable Water Repellent finish (DWR), and means that water and dirt bounces off the fabric rather than being absorbed by the fabric and making it wet and dirty. This has been an important and effective treatment of waterproof fabrics for more than 30 years.

Bergans is working continuously to find a suitable replacement for DWR treatment containing PFAS, which adds long-lasting functionality to the products. A significant part of the challenge lies in the very word "long-lasting".

Thus far, nobody has succeeded in developing a PFAS-free DWR treatment that gives the products long-lasting dirt and water-repellent capabilities. Tests show that after a relatively short period of use the materials become contaminated by dirt (grime and grease). The garments consequently lose their technical properties and are also very challenging to clean.

This significantly reduces the service life of the garments, meaning consumers will have to procure new garments more frequently. This will increase consumption and production, negatively impacting the environmental accounts.

We therefore believe it is crucial to identify an alternative DWR treatment that gives our products long-lasting and adequate functionality. It must also be demonstrably more environmentally and health-friendly.

A preliminary solution to phase out PFAS with proven damaging properties (eg. PFOA) is that we since 2014 has made use of a treatment with a shorter fluorocarbon chain (C6 instead of C8). However, we emphasise this as a provisional solution.We are working persistently to find an adequate replacement. It is our goal to offer products that have been subject to PFAS-free DWR treatment by 2020.

This is what Bergans is doing now:

We maintain stringent control over the chemicals used in the production of our products. In being a bluesign® system partner we demand that our products meet the most stringent chemical requirements in the market, which, in many cases, exceed existing legal requirements.
We use several bluesign®-approved substances. This means that the manufacturer has control over which chemicals are used and how harmful emissions are avoided. Our goal is for 75% of our products to be bluesign®-approved by 2020.
We do not use any membranes that contain PTFE.
PFOA and PFOS that were proven to be harmful were phased out early (2014) from Bergans´ DWR treatment.
We perform thorough tests of all alternative DWR treatments as they develop, to prevent these resulting in other negative environmental consequences.

Environmental/health hazards occur only if/when substances accumulate in nature over a period of time.

Norway has very strict requirements regarding the use of chemicals in clothing. All tests performed on Bergans products, both internally and externally, indicate that we fall well within all statutory requirements.