W. L. Gore & Associates is the OEKO-TEX® Company of the Month for January

ZURICH, Switzerland — January 23, 2015 —The US family business W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. has made a significant name for itself in the textile sector, primarily through its textile laminates based on the patented membrane technology GORE-TEX®. A large number of renowned outdoor brands are now using this laminate in the manufacture of clothing and waterproof footwear. Whether in cycling gear, ski pants, mountaineering boots or professional protective clothing – GORE-TEX function textiles remain durably waterproof, wind proof and breathable. The company provides its “GUARANTEED TO KEEP YOU DRY™“ guarantee for all GORETEX products in its recreation and fashion range. In the area of product safety, Gore has implemented the OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 worldwide for over 20 years now, receiving its first certifications in 1996. The requirements of the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 are met not only by its functional fabrics for occupational and recreational clothing, but also by its seam tapes and semi-finished products (its glove inserts, for instance).

Today, Gore has firmly established itself as one of the leading manufacturers in the functional textiles sector. As a company with a technologically-orientated tradition, Gore places premium value on research and product innovation. The company has a wide range of products that includes the textile material GORE-TEX, cables for telecommunications, medical implants, filter tubes for power plants and highly-specialised products for use in industry and aeronautics and aerospace electronics. Based in Newark (Delaware) in the USA, Gore employs over 10,000 staff worldwide and has an annual turnover of more than USD 3 billion. The company is a global player with production operations in the USA, Germany, Great Britain, Japan and China. Gore commenced its business operations in Europe a number of years after the company was founded in 1958.

The company now has sales offices and production sites in a large number of European countries and provides a wide variety of products for all kinds of use in local markets. Gore is one of the few companies to have repeatedly been chosen as one of the 100 best employers in the USA since 1984. The company has also been considered as one of the most attractive employers in Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy and Sweden for some time now. Gore was also recently chosen as one of the best employers in China.

Bernhard Kiehl, Head of the Sustainability Program in the Gore Fabrics Division, sees this as the affirmation of the core values of a unique company philosophy: “We have created a corporate culture based on personal responsibility and fun at work. This is augmented by our conviction that people are self-motivated to work and be successful.” Bernhard Kiehl explains: “From the outset, the company founders Bill and Vieve Gore were of the belief that a person was at their most creative when working within a team of equals – within a network based around a level and closely linked grid structure. At its core is anetwork of manageable units with direct communication channels. The employees act based on their own personal understanding of “commitment”. They are therefore not asked to do something, but commit to doing it voluntarily.” In this sense, employees are also considered “associates”, and they devote themselves to projects that suit their capabilities. At Gore, a leadership role has to be acquired based on specialist knowledge, social competency and other factors. This also reflects the fact that the team respects the role of leadership.

Gore has always followed the principle of basing its actions around established scientific knowledge. The company thus complies with all legal environmental regulations and health and safety provisions and – wherever possible – surpasses them through furtherreaching self-imposed standards. Furthermore, all of its production sites have for some time now been certified in accordance with the specifications of the quality management system ISO 9001-9008. An environmental management system has been introduced at all of its production sites and Gore has started the process of receiving certification for them in accordance with ISO 14001. At the core of the environmental approach adopted by Gore is its ecological evaluation tool, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), sometimes referred to as eco balance. It is a standardised, scientifically approved method that fully assesses the environmental impact created by an end product, from the acquisition of the raw materials, through manufacturing and distribution, up to disposal. Bernhard Kiehl has utmost confidence in this method: “The results of the LCA assessments really show that the most effective means of reducing the environmental impact of functional outdoor clothing is through increasing its functional durability, and thus increasing the product’s lifecycle.

That’s why durability is a real cornerstone of our environmental strategy. Together with our high standards in operational environmental protection and occupational health and safety, the careful handling of resources and an employee-orientated corporate culture, this allows us to fulfil our corporate responsibilities in relation to society and the environment.”

GORE functional textiles now made only with PFOA-free raw materials
At the end of 2013, GORE completed its project to eliminate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) from all of the raw materials used in the manufacture of its weather-resistant functional textiles. This covers membranes and DWR (Durable Water Repellency) across its entire range of applications, from mountaineering, running, cycling, fashion and lifestyle and outdoor and recreational footwear to work clothing for the fire service and police. PFOA was recently added to the list of “substances of very high concern” under the terms of the European regulation REACH, and regulation of the substance is currently under preparation. With preventive consumer protection in mind, the use of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is severely regulated in the OEKO-TEX product certification process regardless.

Posted January 27, 2007

Source: Oeko-Tex Association