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Gore to Invest $15M in R&D for Alternative Waterproof Solutions

W.L. Gore & Associates, the Newark, Delaware-based maker of Gore-Tex fabric, has announced it will invest $15 million in alternative durable water repellent (DWR) solutions over the next five years.

Recognizing the ongoing debate regarding per- and polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) and their presence in DWR treatments, Gore’s goal is to find new waterproof finishes with a reduced environmental impact that still provide durable comfort at or above the performance level of existing fabric technologies on the market today.

“We are also exploring completely new approaches that may provide the necessary functionalities in non-traditional ways in order to reduce the environmental footprint of our products and to act as a role model for a more responsible outdoor industry,” said John Cusick, Gore’s global business leader of consumer garments.

Lifecycle analysis overseen by Oeko-Institut Freiburg has shown the best way to minimize the ecological impact of functional outerwear is to enhance its durability. Since 2013, Gore has been evaluating a range of DWR treatments that are based on both fluorinated and non-fluorinated polymers. Cusick continued, “During our tests, the non-fluorinated DWR treatment completely failed after only a short time of field use. This rapid decline of water repellency fails to meet the user’s expectation and need for a comfortable, long-lasting, performing garment.”

To that end, the company hopes this multimillion-dollar investment in research and development will result in an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to current waterproof coating solutions that will enable a long useful life for its functional outerwear.