Taking the lead among technical pack brands looking to eliminate harmful pollutants in their supply chain, Deuter rolled out a completely PFC-free 2020 pack line at the 2019 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. The German backpack specialist took a magnifying glass to its production and sourcing to continue as a leader in sustainability, and is backing up all of its gear with the Deuter Promise — a promise to repair any Deuter pack free of charge, no matter the generation or reason for defect.
By tackling the PFC problem, Deuter is taking a step it hopes many other brands will follow, and some are already stepping up to the plate. Patagonia will be releasing its first few PFC-free garments in 2019. Columbia has released a PFC-free rain jacket and insulating layer. VF-Corporation — owners of Smartwool, the North Face, Altra and more — plans to be PFC free by 2025. The tide is turning.
If you're not an industry insider or chemical engineer, you might not realize how awesome this is. PFC (perfluorocarbon) pollution is a consequence of DWR (durable water repellent) treatment. PFCs are responsible for the water beading up on, and shedding off, your rain coat. But they're also responsible for contaminating water supplies, persisting in the environment and some research even suggests they may cause adverse health effects. PFCs are incredibly stable, so they do a great job keeping water off gear for a long time, but that means they also do a great job of hanging around in the environment. Hanging around, as in thousands of years.
Deuter isn't down with that.
“Deuter recognizes that PFCs are potentially harmful and environmentally persistent," said Senior Marketing Manager Jonathan Degenhardt. "Since 2014, we have been researching alternatives to PFCs and have been phasing them out over several years. In 2020, 100 percent of Deuter’s collection will be PFC-free. Deuter is one of the only backpack manufacturers in the world to take on this level of commitment to consumer safety and sustainability.”
Deuter's promise to go PFC free by 2020 is the latest in a storied history of environmental stewardship from the brand. Deuter has been a Bluesign member since 2008, embracing the most demanding environmental standard for textile products; the company has been a member of the Fair Wear Foundation since 2011, and gained leader status in 2013 with its continuing commitment to higher work and social standards in the supply chain; and for the last six years Deuter has been a platinum partner of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics.
All the new gear that retailers ordered at the latest installment of Outdoor Retailer is already completely PFC free. Hopefully the outdoor industry as whole is only a few years behind.