W. L. Gore & Associates (Gore) has announced a new development in its popular outerwear fabric GORE-TEX, one that’ll make it lighter, thinner, and more sustainable.
Dubbed ePe, the new technology is formed by combining polyethylene with polyurethane. The result is a waterproof, windproof material that also keeps its wearer cool. Compared to its predecessor, it is half the thickness. It has a high strength to weight ratio as well as billions of small holes that help aerate the inside and make it breathable.
“The membrane material is the functional foundation of a broader system,” Matt Decker, a global technical leader for consumer fabrics, told Forbes. “It is a microporous material that is a wonderful scaffold as a base material for creating waterproof and breathable fabrics.”
In relation to environmental friendliness, the new ePe material does not utilize any harmful perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which are generally used for consumer goods like non-stick cookware or waterproof apparel, but PFC application is widespread across countless industries. A majority of PFCs’ harm comes from their resistance to degradation over time, a property that has given them the nickname “forever chemicals.”
As they infiltrate water and food supplies, PFCs have been shown to cause reproductive issues as well as increasing cancer risk in people if ingested. Despite their risk, PFCs continue to be a part of our daily lives, which makes Gore’s commitment to eliminating them a very welcomed move, one we hope will have a ripple effect across the rest of the apparel and equipment industry.
Forbes notes that “The ePE also lowers Gore’s carbon footprint, as measured by Higg MSI, in the creation of the product by producing a material free of PFCs of Environmental Concern by using non-fluorinated materials. The low membrane mass also helps reduce the material’s carbon footprint and helps move toward the brand’s goal of being free of PFCs of Environmental Concern.”
The publication also added that Gore plans to roll this innovation out in the Fall/Winter 2022 season. Upon reading Gore’s sustainability page on its website, we discovered the brand has committed to entirely eliminating PFCs of Environmental Concern from the life cycle of its consumer products by 2023.
“Gore continuously strives to deliver outdoor products with the optimal combination of high technical performance and sustainability,” says Ross MacLaine, Gore Fabrics Division Sustainability Leader. “By adopting the ambitious goal to eliminate PFCs of Environmental Concern from all of our consumer fabrics products we are underlining our decades long commitment to continuously improve the environmental profile of our products. Together with our suppliers, we intend to achieve our goal through an aggressive innovation program that will entail the development of new DWR treatments and membrane materials.”
Hopefully, this ideology ripples across the apparel and equipment industries, including many of Gore’s brand partners, like adidas, Nike, Patagonia, Arc’teryx, and even the U.S. Military.
To learn more about PFCs, you can check our previous story, Polartec Ditches Toxic PFAS Treatments For Water-Repellent Fabrics.