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Statement concerning the Greenpeace Press Release “Outdoor-Marken verheimlichen Schadstoff-Informationen” (“Outdoor brands conceal information on hazardous substances”)

(04.02.2013) We welcome the fact that Greenpeace is denouncing the use of fluorocarbons (PFCs) in the outdoor industry.

Why does VAUDE welcome the Greenpeace Campaign ?

Greenpeace is addressing a sore point in the outdoor industry.   

PFCs are common in two areas of the outdoor industry: in membranes and as surface finishes that make products water repellent as well as dirt and oil repellent. 

Up until now, PFCs have been a guarantee for outdoor products’ high degree of functionality, but they have also long been known to be problematic for people and the environment.  VAUDE has long been a driving force in the industry for phasing out the use of PFCs.

Does VAUDE “conceal” data ?

Greenpeace is accusing VAUDE of concealing test results. What is true is that the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) tested (among others) a VAUDE jacket from the 2007 collection (Turnpike Jacket with a PTFE eVent membrane).

In 2010, VAUDE decided to eliminate the use of all PTFE membranes (see below). The Turnpike Jacket definitively does not fit with the current VAUDE product philosophy (although it complies with all limits for PFCs, including that of the bluesign Standard).

In order to avoid confusing the public with data that is no longer representative due to outdated technology, we have requested that the German Federal Environmental Agency not publish the test results of the Turnpike without setting the entire study in the correct context.

The test results do, however, exist and we are happy to make them available (http://www.vaude.com/en-GB/en/Statement-Detox/)

The VAUDE Position on PFCs:

VAUDE had taken on the challenge of becoming Europe’s most sustainable outdoor brand by 2015 long before the Greenpeace Detox Campaign started. We have deliberately been working on phasing out the use of PFCs, including the use of PTFE membranes (which need PFC during manufacturing). Since 2010, VAUDE has been using membranes made from PE or PU exclusively.

With the Sympatex membrane made from polyethylene (PE) and our own Ceplex membrane made from polyurethane (PU), VAUDE uses PTFE-free alternatives with an excellent degree of functionality. In membranes, VAUDE is 100% PFC-free.  

The challenge regarding PFCs lies in the water, oil and dirt repellency finishes of materials – the DWR (durable water repellency) finishes. The DWR finishes currently available on the market can lead to PFC residues in products.   

One of the critical substances that may occur as a trace contaminant is PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). There are no legal limits for PFOA. According to the bluesign Standard, PFOA may not be used to manufacture outdoor products; bluesign has strictly defined limits for residues. The bluesign Standard is the strictest textile standard for environmental protection, consumer protection and occupational safety (www.bluesign.com)

In the current VAUDE Collection, 50% of water repellent VAUDE products are PFOA-free. 

By 2014, VAUDE will be 100% PFOA-free

We see this milestone, however, as just one step along the way to completely eliminating the use of PFCs. This is our declared goal. We are working closely together with our material suppliers to find PFC-free DWR treatments for our products.  Unlike the current situation with membranes, there are currently no PFC-free, state-of-the-art DWR treatments that offer an equivalent level of water, oil and dirt repellency.

More research and testing is required in this field. VAUDE is one of the few companies in the outdoor industry that is actively driving the process forward and using a great deal of resources to do so. The pressure that Greenpeace is putting on the entire industry can help accelerate this process.

VAUDE – dedicated to making y(our) world a better place

As the first company in the outdoor industry to do so, VAUDE introduced an Environmental Management System and has been EMAS certified since 2008. Since 2001, we have been working closely together with bluesign technologies AG and already produce 80% of our Apparel Collection in accordance with the bluesign Standard.

We have also been dealing with the issue of fluorocarbons for years and have provided open and honest communication through our annual Sustainability Report and on our website (i.e. here:)

http://www.vaude-csr-report.com

In addition, VAUDE is addressing a variety of other sustainability issues, such as climate neutrality throughout the company, and fair social standards in production as a member of the Fair Wear Foundation.  

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