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«Bergans on a steady course to become 100% PFAS free»

Pressinfo – 3 min. read time

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In a few years all sales of products containing PFAS substances will be banned in Europe. Bergans support the ban and has been preparing for it for several years. We are now approaching our final goal; 100% of the products being 100% PFAS-free.

–As a supplier of outdoor equipment, we have a special responsibility for nature and the environment. We wholeheartedly support the PFAS ban, even though we know it will diminish the durability of the water repellency of several of our products, says Sustainability Manager in Bergans, Christoph Centmayer.

Since 2020 Centmayer has been a key person in the work to phase out PFAS in all Bergans products. He believes that Bergans is on track towards the total ban, which is expected to take effect in two to three years. The final date has not yet been determined by the European Chemicals Agency ECHA, which is the responsible authority.

Recently, Bergans also joined an international No to PFAS movement initiated by the Swedish NGO ChemSec. More than a hundred companies are involved in the movement which advocates for strict legislation and a ban on all non-essential use of PFAS substances.

Learn more about PFAS and why it is harmful.

It is in the water-repellent treatment applied to the outer fabric of the garments that PFAS is found. In technical terms the treatment is called WR (Water Repellent). It is this treatment that causes water to form into large beads that runs off the fabric.

–We already have many products with PFAS-free impregnation on the market. These are mostly products where water-repellent ability is not essential for the product's function, such as in softshell, down and shell garments for everyday use. Our goal is for all our products to be 100% PFAS-free by 2025 at the latest, says Centmayer.

Not as effective

One element that makes phasing out PAFS a little easier for us at Bergans compared to other manufacturers, is that we do not use membranes that contain PFAS. As a bluesign®-systempartner we also have good control on chemicals used in our production.

According to Centmayer, the biggest challenge is to find PFAS free WR treatments that can match the function when it comes to water repellency.

– The PFAS-free solutions naturally are not as effective as those containing PFAS. The perceived water-repellent function of the fabric will therefore not be as strong and visible. For example, you will not see that the water beads up and runs off the fabric in the same way. The PFAS-free impregnation is also not as durable and therefore weakens more quickly. Previously, the treatment was called DWR, which is an abbreviation for Durable Water Repellent, now the "D" for "durable" is no longer sufficient to use, Centmayer explains.

More frequent re-impregnation

Bergans has collaborated with both competitors and other specialist communities in the search for an effective prescription, including in the POPFREE Project, which is run by the Swedish research institute RISE.

– We have been involved in several development projects aiming to speed up the research in the industry to find an adequate replacement. This has given us very good insight, but we still haven’t found a good solution when it comes to duration. The PFAS-free impregnations perform differently on different materials, which makes it an extensive task to test and map them. But we'll continue the development work together with our suppliers to ensure a good function, says Centmayer optimistically.

He says consumers will have to re-impregnating their shell garments more often than they have been used to.

This is how Bergans want you to re-impregnate.

– It obviously depends on how water-repellent you want the garment to be, you may not set equally high demands on all garments. If you want the garment to provide good protection against water, you must be prepared to re-impregnate far more often than before, he says and quickly adds; just remember to use a PFAS-free impregnation