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Six questions to Christiane, Head of Sustainability at Fjällräven

Why does Fjällräven want to avoid fluorocarbons?

“Perfluorinated substances are a type of compound that are both oil and water resistant and are therefore used in many different ways, for example for impregnating leather and textiles. They accumulate in living organisms and are toxic. Even if toxicity was only a risk, it would be enough for us to stop using them.

We always adopt the precautionary principle; we want to avoid all types of damaging chemicals and we have strict restrictions and demands for our suppliers.”

What does fluorocarbon-free impregnation mean for the products – is it less effective or less waterproof?

“Fluorocarbon-free impregnation is also water resistant, so our products are absolutely no worse off for it. If you look at our products’ area of use – outdoor life – then fluorocarbon-free impregnation totally fulfils functionality demands. It is, however, not as resistant to oil as treatments with fluorocarbons.

It also needs to be renewed a little more often – about every second time you wash it. We think that the little extra effort needed here is worth it to get rid of these dangerous substances.

We have to remember that waterproofness has nothing to do with impregnation, it is achieved in other ways; for example in Eco-Shell it is the membrane that makes the garments waterproof.”

It has taken several years to convert to using fluorocarbon-free impregnation. Why has it taken so long?

“We needed to test the new alternatives so we could be sure that they fulfil the demands we have on functionality. This always takes time. In addition, a lot has happened in the market in recent years, there are many more alternatives available now. We also want to be totally sure that the alternatives really are better sustainably as well as having good functionality.”

Can you be sure that there won’t be any fluorocarbons found if the fabrics are tested?

“Because these dangerous substances are still being used far and wide, even in our branch, it is impossible to guarantee that there won’t be any traces of fluorocarbons found in our products. There is a risk that they might be cross-contaminated during production, transportation or in retail stores.”

How do I re-impregnate a jacket that has fluorocarbon-free impregnation?

“You can choose a fluorocarbon-free spray impregnation, such as PFC-free Waterproofing Impregnation that we have developed specifically for Eco-Shell.”

I have an older shell jacket, should I throw it away now?

“No absolutely not – the environment will not benefit from you throwing away a perfectly functional jacket. The best thing you can do is to use it for as long as possible and then let it go to someone else who needs it.”