Good intentions only take one so far, and some of the most important changes often don’t occur until the hand is forced.
Durable water-repellent (DWR) fabric treatments are a perfect example. Though they had a long history of far-and-wide use within the apparel, home furnishings and outdoor product sectors, concerns over their environmental impact prompted government bodies to increase attention to their regulation. . With “traditional” long-chain fluorinated DWR products less of an appealing option, a market for new innovation emerged.
Many brands now seek non-fluorinated DWR products, and leading outerwear brands have even made public commitments to opt for non-fluorinated replacements.
“Just a few years ago, sustainability was another word for overpriced or only a niche market being catered to only by our higher-end tier retailers,” said David Bennett, owner of Mainstream International, a manufacturer of private label home textiles. “This has changed dramatically. Today we have a huge demand at even the opening-price-point retailers. The consumer wants sustainable products at every level of trade.”
“Traditional long-chain fluorinated DWRs were used on products for decades, and so recalibrating the DWR performance required for each product—on top of identifying a replacement that would meet the requirement—was a significant undertaking,” Bob Buck, research scientist at chemistry solutions provider Chemours, said.
As the first renewably sourced, non-fluorinated fabric treatment for durable water repellency, Teflon EcoElite™ was created to fulfill that new market need. The biodegradable finish is manufactured with 60 percent renewably sourced raw materials but remains up to three times more durable than most non-fluorinated repellents. All of these attributes combine to present a finish that provides performance that helps textile products stay clean and last longer, thus advancing sustainability along the product lifecycle.
Mainstream counts some of the largest retailers in the United States among its clients, and Bennett noted that these customers prioritize having an identifiable brand coupled with a high level of functionality.
“In all honesty, there were concerns about costing, and whether the consumer would respond to the higher price point. But without exception, every single placement of Teflon EcoElite™ has been a success,” said Bennett. “Just last week we had a retailer tell us that she ran a Mainstream Furniture Protector treated with Teflon EcoElite™, and in one week had a 67 percent sell-through.”
“Needless to say, we have seen re-orders on this item,” Bennett added, “and that same retailer will now be adding Teflon EcoElite™ Finish on Chair Pads to the assortment.”
While replacements to traditional long-chain fluorinated DWR were initially—and mistakenly—viewed as being less effective, this misconception has ceased. Likewise, consumers have proven that they’re willing to pay more for products that are more sustainable.
“Consumers will pay for what they value. Consumer desire to know where and how a product was made—and with what—is increasing, and there’s ample evidence to show that this is driving buying behavior and increasing,” Buck said.
“It’s simply an outdated assumption,” Bennett confirmed. “We have seen that, at every single tier of distribution, the consumer is willing to pay for a brand such as Teflon EcoElite™ finish that can tell a sustainable story.”
Click to learn more about Chemours and Teflon EcoElite™.