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Fluorocarbons (PFCs)

Everyone at Lowe Alpine feels passionately about protecting the outdoors and reducing our impact on the environment. That’s why from 1st November 2019 all fabric purchased for Lowe Alpine products will be fluorocarbon free.

Fluorocarbons are widely used in outdoor clothing and equipment in the manufacture of durable water repellent finishes (DWRs). Fluorocarbons also prevent dirt and oils from adhering to the material which will impact the performance and the longevity of the product. There is increasing research which demonstrates that fluorocarbons can leach from materials and gradually find their way into water systems.

In line with the legislation, we have only been using fluorocarbon-free or shorter chain PFCs (C6) on Lowe Alpine backpacks. Our 1st November 2019 purchase commitment moves Lowe Alpine to a complete fluorocarbon-free fabric solution and away from C6 durable water repellent (DWR) coatings. We will continue to use up existing C6 fabrics, making inline fabric changes to existing ranges when old materials are exhausted. This helps to maintain production efficiency, speeding up pace of change to fluorocarbon free and most importantly avoids unnecessary fabric waste.

When it comes to water repellence, the key challenge faced by the outdoor industry faces is finding a fluorocarbon-free DWR treatment which maintains breathability. This is not a concern when it comes to backpacks. As Lowe Alpine’s Head of Brand, Jim Evans states: “Any ‘breathability’ in our backpacks comes from the carry system, rather than the fabrics. This means we’re free to look at non-breathable fluorocarbon-free alternatives for our backpacks and rain covers. All in all, this commitment to fluorocarbon-free fabrics just makes sense for Lowe Alpine.
Everyone at Lowe Alpine feels passionately about protecting the outdoors and reducing our impact on the environment. That’s why we’ve brought forward our plans to make the change to fluorocarbon-free fabrics; ultimately, there’s no time like the present to make a positive step forward.”

Rolling new fabrics out through this inline approach results in it being more difficult to specify fluorocarbon-free fabric on a pack by pack basis, but we anticipate most products made for AW20 production will be using fluorocarbon-free fabrics.