The issue of fluorocarbons is currently making the headlines, and Greenpeace, for example, is working on a large campaign surrounding this topic. We at Houdini want to be transparent in how we deal with these questions.
What are fluorocarbons?
Fluorocarbons are used for a variety of reasons within the outdoor industry, in everything from waterproof shell clothing to tents and fishing lines. The substances can also be found in several other products. In everything from the manufacturing- and electronics industry to impregnated paper, detergents, firefighting foam, bags for microwave popcorn and nonstick pans. These perfluorinated substances are used for their ability to create water-, fat- and grease repellent surfaces.
What does it look like today at Houdini?
There are many different kinds of fluorocarbons. We have already refrained from using PFOA, a type of fluorocarbon that is particularly harmful. The waterproof membrane in our shell layers is also entirely free from fluorocarbons, something that we are fairly alone in accomplishing. For the impregnation of shell layers (what is often called DWR - durable water repellency), we use a fluorocarbon-based repellent called C6 for many of our shell layers. However, we have already begun phasing out fluorocarbons and have new shell layers that are completely fluorocarbon-free in 2015: Corner Jacket and Corner Pants (both for men and women in different colors).
Why aren’t we already completely fluorocarbon-free?
We have long been looking for treatments that are entirely free from fluorocarbons, but it has been difficult since we do not want to compromise with the functionality and performance of our clothes.
Today, there are good alternatives ready to be used. But we have had a problem with prioritizing. We have a major focus on circular production (products that are made by recycled and recyclable fibers), and work with the world-leading manufacturer Teijin. Due to trade barriers between the EU and Japan, we have been unable to import the preferred impregnation. We were faced with a choice and prioritized the circular production. Of course, it is frustrating to have to make that kind of choice but it looks now like the issue is about to be resolved.
When will we be completely fluorocarbon-free?
Houdini aims to switch to treatments that are entirely fluorocarbon-free as soon as possible. We will reach this goal by fall 2017 based on how things are currently progressing. We will be back with more updates as soon as we have more information.
We have also participated in a Swedish research project focused on creating a DWR, using components that are biodegradable (according to OECD 301), www.organoclick.com, and we work diligently on other alternatives together with our suppliers.
Houdini supports Greenpeace’s petition and we hope for as many signatures as possible:
/The team at Houdini
The image shows Houdini W's Corner Jacket & Pants, wind and waterproof shell layers free from flourocarbons, both membrane and coating.