Hélène Vallin from Salomon’s Footwear Materials Development Team explains what it means to create an entire footwear range that is PFC- and PFC EC-free, and why it’s an important step taken by Salomon with the current Fall/Winter 2020-2021 product range.
Starting with the new Fall/Winter 2020-2021 footwear range, Salomon’s entire collection of shoes for running and hiking is PFC- or PFC EC-free.
PFC stands for Per Fluorinated Chemical and PFC EC for Per Fluorinated Chemical of Environmental Concern. PFC ECs and PFCs are non-natural chemicals that do not exist in nature. For a long time, PFCs have been used as a refrigerant or anti-adhesive coating. In the textile world, PFCs have long been used to achieve water repellency on waterproof membranes. In footwear specifically, they have been used to help make shoe membranes waterproof.
Studies have shown, however, that PFCs are harmful to the environment and people. So, in creating its fall/winter 2020-2021 footwear range (available now), Salomon has made the effort to ensure that every shoe in the range is PFC- or PFC EC- free.
To accomplish that, the footwear materials team at Salomon was tasked with sourcing materials that were both free of these chemicals and also meet the standards of Salomon’s demanding lab tests for waterproofness and durability.
“Every season we have different needs and we try to send our material suppliers all the trends and designs and that we expect to be on the shoe,” says Hélène Vallin, Material Footwear Developer at Salomon. “So we have the option to develop new materials or work on existing materials and adapt them slightly. And, of course, there is no compromise on the performance of the shoe. So when it comes to running or hiking or whatever you are doing outdoors in these shoes, you can expect to have the same level of waterproofness as always.”
The process of creating an entire footwear range that is PFC- or PFC EC-free is now leading to other sustainable footwear projects at Salomon, such as recyclability in footwear. It’s also supporting the company to assess its own environmental performance.
Since 2016, Salomon has been part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which created the HIGG Index. This tool is used to assess the environmental performance of suppliers and products in order to create a clear, global score for each product, allowing for more transparency for the consumer. By using PFC- or PFC EC-free materials in footwear, Salomon improves the overall sustainable performance of every footwear product and challenges suppliers with new materials to make them more responsible.
In addition to being PFC- or PFC EC-free in footwear, Salomon bag collection for the spring/summer 2021 season are all PFC- or PFC EC-free. Salomon snowboard boots are also PFC- or PFC-EC free for the current 2020-2021 range. In apparel and winter sports, Salomon expects to be PFC- or PFC EC-free in 2023.
“Being a PFC- and PFC EC-free in footwear is a must-do. We must do it for us, for our consumers and for the planet,” Vallin says.