Phasing out per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) applied in our water-repellent products is one of our strategic goals here at Mammut. PFCs are very durable. Unfortunately, this also means they decompose very slowly. Due to that fact, we have been looking for solutions that will continue to ensure the high performance of our products, while at the same time reducing the environmental impact. We started on this journey years ago and since publishing our PFC policy in December 2016, we have further ramped up our efforts, participating in a research project in 2017 and starting a huge battery of tests in 2018.
PFCs are used for the durable water repellency (DWR) finish of the outer fabric of our rain gear. It is this water repellent coating that prevents the fabric from getting soaked, thus ensuring continued breathability of the Hardshell product.
In order to ensure the quality and durability of our fabrics with DWR, we changed our testing method from the widely used spray test to the more stringent so called Bundesmann test. They both simulate rainfall. However, with the Bundesmann test, the height from which the water falls onto the fabric is increased ten times, multiplying the impact force of the water droplets. Furthermore, testing time is prolonged from 30 seconds to ten minutes and pressure is applied to the fabric, simulating body movement as if wearing the product.
"With the new Bundesmann-Test, we evaluate realistically how the material behaves in the rain."
- Heike Bördgen, Project Manager & Material Developer
In more than 200 lab hours, we conducted a total of over 400 tests on 120 different fabrics across all product categories. We included various PFC-free alternatives currently available, too. The main result for us was that numerous factors affect the performance. Aside from the chemicals, they mainly are: the fabric construction, the production process and the overall care by the consumer. In sharing this insight, we support our suppliers during their production process.
Additionally, we participate in the research project POPFREE initiated by the Research Institute of Sweden (RISE). We not only analyze the impact of PFCs on the environment but also that of its alternatives. Keen on gaining as much knowledge as possible, we collaborate with other brands and industry partners as well as with businesses in other industries where PFCs are widely used, such as ski wax or food contact paper. Aside from having the opportunity to learn from each other, this also supports the effort of creating a strong voice requesting a change.
We are excited to announce that more and more of our products will be manufactured PFC-free, giving you the opportunity to make sustainable choices. For example, you can already enjoy all the advantages of one of our classic mountaineering highlights, the Kento jacket, now for the first time completely PFC-free! Better still, this is just the beginning. For the Winter 2019/20 season, all of our skiing backpacks will come with a PFC-free DWR as well. Stay tuned, there is a lot more to come …