LCA journey continues: Gore offers solution dyed and recycled textiles
Stemming from its ongoing commitment to Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies and its commitment to deliver the optimal combination of high technical performance and low environmental footprint, W.L. Gore & Associates’ Fabrics Division will expand its use of textile solution dyeing and increase its offering of recycled GORE-TEX® face-fabric textiles for Fall/Winter 2017. These initiatives will help Gore to improve the environmental footprint of its products throughout their full life cycle. Together the projects will substantially reduce water use and CO2 emissions, and also decrease the amount of material that otherwise might end up in landfills.
By expanding its share of solution-dyed textiles, Gore will capture some of the most substantial environmental gains identified by Gore’s previous LCA studies, reducing water usage and decreasing CO2 emissions.
Solution dyeing is a yarn-dyeing technology that saves up to 60 percent in water usage, and offers a significant reduction in CO2 emissions compared to conventional dyeing processes (polyester up to 58% reduced CO2 eq. emissions, polyamide up to 45% reduced CO2 eq. emissions). During the solution-dyeing process, pigment is mixed with the nylon or polyester pellets prior to spinning into yarn. The resulting yarn is permanently, deeply coloured and ready to be woven into fabrics.
Thomas Kiebler, who oversees textile development for consumer garments in Gore’s Fabrics Division, said: “This technology not only helps us to reduce our environmental footprint, it also offers a performance benefit of superior colour-fastness to light. With this improved colour-fastness, consumers will enjoy brilliant colours for a longer. And, as we know from our LCA studies, using a durable outerwear product for a long time is the best thing you can do if you wish to reduce its impact on the environment.”
In 2016, Gore and Berghaus pioneered solution-dyed textiles for Berghaus’ GORE-TEX® collection. With the ambition to roll out that technology more broadly, Gore is currently involved in discussions with several other customers, among them Arc’teryx, who will offer a specially developed solution-dyed product in AW18, designed for Mountain Professionals who are exposed on a regular basis to sunlight at high altitude.
In addition to increasing its use of solution dyeing, Gore will increase its offering of recycled face-fabric textiles in its product portfolio. Though the use of mechanically or chemically recycled fabric has a relatively small positive impact on CO2 emissions, using recycled materials enables the Gore Fabrics Division to have a larger impact by reducing the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills or in incineration. Gore’s recycled nylon is currently sourced from pre-consumer waste while its recycled polyester source is post consumer PET bottles. This shift also ties to Gore Fabrics’ overall goal of keeping the use of natural resources to a minimum to deliver its high performing and durable products.
“We are committed to increasing the use of recycled materials in our Gore laminate collection,” Kiebler said. “When customers need our help to assist in achieving their sustainability textiles goals, we will be able to deliver the appropriate product.”
For Fall/Winter 2017, Gore will launch a range of laminates paired with recycled nylons and polyesters in different GORE-TEX® product classes, working with brand partners that include Haglöfs, Norrøna and Patagonia.
The Gore Fabrics Division has been using LCA studies to inform its activities since 1992. LCA is the global standard for assessing the total environmental impact of a finished product from “Cradle to Grave”. While carbon foot-printing only looks at one factor, LCA takes into account all aspects of a product’s environmental footprint. And, research shows that the longer a functional outdoor jacket or shoes last, the smaller its annual environmental impact will be; a factor neglected when only comparing single component materials.
Gore Fabrics’ announcement around solution dyeing and offering more recycled fabrics follows its announcement in February 2017 of a series of ambitious environmental goals, including its intent to eliminate PFCs of Environmental Concern (www.gore-tex.com/pfcgoal) and to increase the share of garment and footwear laminates that are certified according to the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 and are bluesign® approved from its consumer fabrics products in coming years.