Recycled Soft GORE-TEX Shell Laminates For Workwear Applications

Sustainable materials and production processes save more than 50% CO2 and use almost two-thirds less water

GORE-TEX Professional is launching a new product technology for protective workwear with a significantly reduced environmental impact. The environmental footprint of the waterproof, windproof and breathable ‘Soft GORE-TEX Shell’ technology is greatly reduced through three levers: durability of materials, textiles derived from recycled PET bottles and, finally, a textile circular knitting and solution dyeing process. In total, this results in almost 54% CO2 savings, about 64% less water consumption, and reduced chemical usage. In addition, the circular knitting process not only reduces CO2 emissions, but the hard shell laminates are soft to touch.

For more than 30 years, Gore’s sustainability strategy has focused on product durability and life cycle assessment approach, because the longer a product is worn, the lower its annual environmental footprint. To further reduce the environmental impact, Gore is researching materials that, for example, save CO2 emissions or further reduce water consumption while maintaining the durable protective function or meeting and exceeding the required standards. For the production of the new 2- and 3-layer Soft GORE-TEX Shell laminates, the specialist for functional clothing relies on recycled PET drinking bottles. The use of recycled materials in the outer textile or inner lining significantly reduces the proportion of new raw materials and the consumption of water and energy.

Sustainable production processes: knitting and solution dyeing processes

The production processes also contribute to a lower footprint: for example, the outer material as well as the lining of the 3-layer Soft GORE-TEX Shell laminate are made using the knitting process, which is less energy-intensive than the warp-weft weaving process. Another advantage of this process is the high wearing comfort and the soft drape and hand of the laminate.

The inner lining of the laminate is also solution dyed. In this dyeing process, the dye is added to the polymer before the yarn is spun. The yarn thus obtained is permanently depth-dyed and can be knitted directly into a textile. Since no further dyeing processes are required, consumption of CO2, water and chemicals is reduced accordingly. According to the Higg Index, solution dyeing uses up to 90% less water than conventional dyeing methods. Chemical use is reduced by 60% and CO2 emissions by up to 58%. In addition, solution dyed textiles are 10 times more lightfast than traditionally dyed textiles and therefore do not fade as quickly.

Neilsen Reid, Product Specialist at GORE-TEX Professional, says: “This development came from two independent topics: end user market research where we understood that workers desire more flexibility in work clothing expressed as ‘we need waterproofness that doesn’t look and feel like rainwear’. The development of the Soft GORE-TEX Shell Technology has been focused on addressing this need while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact. Importantly, this was done without compromising the durable weather protection which the GORE-TEX brand stands for. As a next step, we will continue to expand the use of recycled content in our laminate portfolio and these laminates will be confirmed according to the Global Recycled Standard, an independent, transparent certification standard.

Gore revolutionised the apparel industry 40 years ago with the waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX fabric and remains a leading innovator in performance apparel. Gore products provide comfort and protection in demanding environments and everyday life, so wearers can safely achieve and experience more with complete confidence. From hiking in pouring rain to military operations to firefighting, Gore’s deep understanding of consumer and industry needs drives the development of products with significant performance benefits.

Read more about GORE-TEX here.

Images by GORE-TEX Professional.

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