- Are GORE-TEX® products environmentally friendly?
Yes, our products are environmentally sound. Their durable performance allows them to last longer, which is the most effective measure for making an environmentally sound choice in functional garments, footwear and accessories.
Due to the selection of advanced materials like expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, we deliver best-in-class products offering a high level of durability. Durability enables a long and useful lifetime of the finished product, resulting in substantial savings of raw materials and energy that would be otherwise required to manufacture multiple units of shorter-lived products.
Learn more about the importance of environmentally sound clothing in Well Dressed, an article about a Cambridge University study that found, “…the greatest beneficial change would occur if we purchased less clothing and kept it for longer.”
The positive environmental effects of product durability are similar to those of our other GORE® products, including WINDSTOPPER® fabrics.
- Does making GORE-TEX® products harm the environment?
While no manufacturing operation can be completely free from emissions and environmental impact, the Fabrics Division of W. L. Gore & Associates makes significant efforts to minimize the effect of our manufacturing processes on the environment.
We fulfill a high level of environmental standards in all of our manufacturing plants globally with controls in place that meet or improve upon the local regulatory demands (e.g., air pollution control devices, solvent-free adhesives, manufacturing waste recycling, and waste water treatment). The environmental impacts of our manufacturing processes are regularly assessed and controlled by an Environmental Management System according to ISO 14001. This environmental manufacturing standard was globally implemented in our fabrics manufacturing plants in 2010.
All of our fabric manufacturing sites have passed the bluesign® screening and have implemented the bluesign® standard, which verifies that our manufacturing processes are carefully managed and equipped with the best available environmental controls. bluesign technologies ag has developed an independent and rigorous standard for the safety and environmental performance in making textile products.
- What is the key environmental impact of GORE-TEX® garments?
GORE-TEX® and other GORE® fabrics are an environmentally sound choice because they are manufactured responsibly and their durable performance allows apparel to last longer, reducing the use of natural resources and waste.
While some manufacturers of functional materials focus on only part of the story regarding the environmental profile of their products, we employ a Life Cycle Assessment approach that considers all aspects of our products. This starts with the production of raw materials by our suppliers and includes all elements of manufacturing and transportation. We even consider the impact of the washing and drying performed by the consumer over the lifetime of the garment.
Comparing the relative impact of each phase of a GORE-TEX® jacket's life, the largest environmental impact occurs during production and finishing of the component materials that make up a garment. In contrast, washing, drying, and retreating during the useful life and disposal incurs a smaller environmental impact.
- Can I care for my GORE-TEX® products in an environmentally friendly way?
Yes. Routine care and maintenance, like washing, will ensure the highest performance from a jacket and extend its useful lifespan. Investing in a long-lasting garment and maintaining it properly not only saves on the environmental footprint but also saves on your direct costs.
GORE-TEX® fabrics have a highly durable stain and water repellency treatment (DWR) that can be easily and repeatedly restored by tumble-drying and/or ironing. In this way, consumers can maintain the performance of their garment and save significantly on the cost and use of repellency restorative treatments. However, if after years or use, washing and drying no longer prove effective, GORE-TEX® garments and footwear may benefit from a DWR restorative treatment. Professional reproofing or spraying of a re-treatment product (according to manufacturer's instructions) can be an efficient way to do so. This also minimizes the release of treatment agents into the environment.
In the event of a tear or hole in the fabric of a garment, our GORE-TEX® Fabric Repair Kit has proven useful in preserving the functional integrity of the garment, thus extending its life. Wearers can either apply the patches themselves or have the garments mended professionally by one of our authorized Gore Repair Centers.
- Is it safe for me to wear my GORE-TEX® gear?
Absolutely. Gore® fabrics are safe to wear. They meet state-of-the-art product safety requirements like Oeko-Tex® Standard 100. This is a global textile safety standard well respected for its science-based approach to textile safety validation.
The implementation of the bluesign® standard in all fabric manufacturing plants of Gore verifies that our products made with ePTFE membranes are harmless to people and environmentally sound. Our fabrics consist of this ePTFE membrane bonded to high-performance textiles from our suppliers. GORE® fabrics will be certified as “bluesign® approved fabrics” when we use textiles that meet the standard. Currently only a few textiles are available that comply completely with both the strict criteria of the bluesign® standard and Gore's rigorous quality parameters.
We now offer two-layer GORE-TEX® and WINDSTOPPER® fabrics that are bluesign® approved fabrics to our customers who manufacture garments. A limited selection of those garments will be available to consumers from fall 2012
Gore is working with its suppliers to gain access to more textiles that comply with the bluesign® standard.
- Is it possible to recycle GORE-TEX® garments?
Gore has developed a technology for high value recycling of its laminates.
Together with some committed customers, in 1993 Gore was the first in the apparel industry to offer high level post-consumer recycling for outerwear. This recycling program for specially designed garments, named GORE™ BALANCE PROJECT™, received the 1995 European Outdoor Award for Innovation. We quickly learned, however, that consumers were not as willing to return these garments for recycling even after years of use, thus the program was stopped.
We have since learned that when considering the entire lifecycle of our apparel and footwear, enhancing their useful life has a much more significant positive impact on their overall environmental footprint than does recycling of the final product.
- How should I dispose of a GORE-TEX® product in an environmentally safe way?
Garments or footwear made from GORE® fabrics can be safely disposed of just like any other apparel product.
Contrary to most other plastics, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) - the raw material of our membrane - is not made or processed using plasticizers or stabilizers. It doesn't contain residuals like heavy metals, organotin compounds or phthalates. If disposed of in a landfill, PTFE will not degrade, so it will not contribute to the formation of greenhouse gases (i.e., methane) or release substances into the water or air. In an incineration plant, PTFE is safely converted to carbon dioxide and fluorspar. Potentially harmful gases are captured by pollution control devices (alkaline scrubbers) that have been in place for a number of decades.
Finding ways to extend the useful life of a product has always been the environmentally preferred option over product disposal. One might wish to consider donating footwear or garments to charities or repurposing the product for other applications.