As concerns mount over the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in textiles, home fabric maker Glen Raven joins a growing contingent of companies making moves to eradicate the chemicals from their products.
The North Carolina-based parent company of Sunbrella fabrics on Tuesday announced its plans to phase out PFAS chemicals across its portfolio. The company began incorporating non-PFAS solutions into its production last month with the goal of completely eliminating the use of the chemicals by the end of 2023.
“Since 2015, our global research and development team has been working with accredited research laboratories and universities to evaluate and develop the best alternatives to PFAS-based finishes,” said Dave Swers, president and COO of Glen Raven Custom Fabrics. “We have invested significantly in this work and the solutions we’re introducing will allow us to continue providing anyone who purchases our fabrics with the best-in-class performance they expect while minimizing our environmental impact as an organization. Our Sunbrella Contract fabrics have included non-PFAS solutions since 2019, and we look forward to implementing non-PFAS solutions across our portfolio.”
Of the thousands of PFAS chemicals in existence, some have been linked to harmful health effects in people and animals. PFAS are also commonly referred to as “forever chemicals” since it takes them so long to break down, if at all. PFAS chemicals can leech into the soil and water during production, and according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products.
Like many home textile companies, Sunbrella has used a PFAS-based solution on its performance fabrics to enhance their repellency to liquids and stains. The transition to a non-PFAS solution will reduce the fabric’s repellence of oils, but Glen Raven has developed a new and proprietary cleaning solution to remove oil-based stains, called Sunbrella Extract.
Home textile makers Milliken and Nassimi both recently announced plans to remove PFAS from their products.
As part of the move away from PFAS chemicals, Glen Raven plans to work with customers in states with enacted regulations against the substances to replace their inventory with compliant fabrics. California, Maine, Vermont and Washington have all enacted legislation regulating the use of PFAS in consumer products such as home goods. As of Jan. 1, product manufacturers must provide written notice to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection regarding any products that contain any intentionally added PFAS.
“We are confident in the integrity of this decision for our business and look forward to working closely with our partners to navigate this transition as an industry,” said Swers.