"Too little is being done on a voluntary basis. Therefore, legal regulations are important in making the industry reconsider its position and in advancing the development of PFAS-free alternatives," continues Antje von Dewitz. PFAS, or per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, were once considered miraculous for their ability to make products water-repellent, non-stick, and stain-resistant. They can be found in a wide range of everyday items, from frying pans to cosmetics, and as a proven fact are harmful to both health and the environment. They accumulate in soil, water, plants, animals, and humans, and are not biodegradable. Despite knowing about the health risks, the industry has continued to use them. The German government, along with four other countries, plans to restrict the entire group of PFAS substances in the EU by 2025.
"We are aware that restricting all PFAS will pose major challenges for many companies. Ten years ago, we were faced with this task ourselves and put a lot of effort into finding pollutant-free alternatives; we went through countless test series and had to accept setbacks time and again. But it was worth it!" says Bettina Roth, Head of Quality Management at Vaude. VAUDE Sport GmbH & Co. KG revenue in 2021 had increased by 17% to a total of US$135 million.
In 2016, Vaude became the only major outdoor brand to sign the Greenpeace Detox Commitment, which committed the company to eliminating all harmful substances from its entire production process and producing its entire collection with PFC-free manufacturing.
To ensure compliance with stated limits and regulations, Vaude is working with a Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL). This is a list of substances that are either wholly prohibited or restricted by limit values and it applies to the entire manufacturing process. 100% of the firm’s primary partners have signed its MRSL and committed themselves to compliance with Vaude’s requirements, which are verified by periodic wastewater tests.