The Textile Business of global manufacturer Milliken & Company has successfully eradicated all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS, from its textile fibers and finishes portfolio.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment and tribute to our team who worked around the clock to develop solutions that meet our customers’ performance requirements and reflect our purpose to positively impact the world for future generations,” said David Smith, executive vice president, Milliken & Company, and president, Milliken’s Textile Business.
In February 2022, the manufacturer announced an aggressive plan to eliminate PFAS as an ingredient in its textile portfolio by the end of the year. As of Dec. 31, 2022, the Textile Business at Milliken, based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, had removed PFAS-based finishes and fibers, which spans multiple industries including flame-resistant, military, uniform and decor fabrics.
Milliken’s Textile Business began evaluating its portfolio in 2020 and segmented its evaluation efforts between three areas of focus: durable water repellency (DWR), soil release and oil repellency. Alternative DWR solutions were readily available in the market through accredited organizations such as bluesign. The Milliken research team assessed and implemented appropriate alternatives to maintain the performance and quality standards customers expect for DWR.
Soil repellency proved to be both a challenge and an opportunity for the Textile Business. Working with Milliken’s internal research team, a new soil release technology was developed and integrated into suitable textile applications without PFAS as an ingredient. The new technology, proprietary to Milliken & Company, has shown equivalent and, in some cases, superior performance to previous PFAS-containing finishes. Currently, the new technology is not an alternative to every soil-repellent finish application. After an extensive search and vetting process for alternative oil repellency, no alternative was found, and the company exited those lines of business as a result.
“Our work was intricate, and our team, including research and development, sourcing, compliance, sales and many other functions, approached this initiative thoughtfully and with great care for our customers,” said Jeff Strahan, Ph.D., director of sustainability, compliance and research for the Textile Business. “We’re thrilled to be leading the industry in taking meaningful action that will have an immediate impact.”
Effective Jan. 1, 2023, Milliken no longer treats textiles with PFAS chemistry. This achievement follows Milliken’s recent announcement that its science-based net-zero targets were approved by the U.N.-backed Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).