We’ve been on a journey since early 2023 to replace PFAS (a family of synthetics known as “forever chemicals”) in our water-resistant fabrics with weather-proofing materials that don’t harm the environment or people.
PFAS (and other acronyms like PFOA and PFC) represent a group of thousands of manmade chemicals used for several decades in various industries. They’ve been known for their outstanding resistance to water and oil or grease, and have been used all over the outdoor industry for waterproofing outerwear, tents and other gear.
In the early 2000s, these minuscule chemicals started appearing in the world’s waterways and soil. Because of their molecular nature, they don’t break down (hence the nickname “forever chemicals”). They are then ingested by animals, fish and people, and are suspected of contributing to some serious health issues.
Awareness has continued to grow among governments, environmental advocacy groups and the business sector, including the promotional products industry.
PFAS Regulations: Where They Are and Where They’re Going in 2024
Governments began limiting the use of PFAS chemicals and then banning them altogether in consumer products except for limited applications. Here in the US, the states of California, New York and Colorado have been at the forefront of these regulations. Others have joined them, as well as Canada and countries in Europe.
2024 will see several new regulations take effect in states like California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Washington that manufacturers and retailers will need to know about. Products like recyclable packaging, carpets, apparel, cookware and cosmetics are just some of the items PFAS have been used in that will be impacted by these new regulations.
How These Regulations Impact Promo
Of course, these regulations affect corporate branding too. It’s important to educate yourself on which states do and will restrict products that contain PFAS. This list is a great place to start, although more states will undoubtedly follow suit—which they should. These harmful chemicals are an environmental problem that affects all of us.
Your challenge will be to find products that meet the demands of these new regulations so you can continue to service your customers. 2024 is the perfect time to find brands already committed to eliminating PFAS in their manufacturing. Working with these brand partners will make it easy for you to know you’re compliant with the products you offer your customers.
Not only will working with environmentally-conscious brands make it easy for you to be PFAS-compliant, but it’ll also make you more attractive to your end users who are sustainability-minded—a demographic that’s growing. In fact, studies show that 91% of consumer prefer a sustainable brand (HSB, MIT Sloan Management Review & The Boston Consulting Group).
PFAS Alternatives in Corporate Branding
We and other brands have been exploring eco-friendly materials made without PFAS for the branded products you offer your customers. It’s been a challenge for researchers to develop alternatives that work as well for waterproofing and stain resistance. But it’s a challenge we’re committed to meeting.
We are proud to share that we have successfully transitioned our fabrics to be made without PFAS. Committed to collaboration within a shared supply chain, we encourage fellow apparel brands to adopt and embrace these new manufacturing processes.
“By partnering with factories and mills that prioritize sustainability and meet our standards, this collective effort can pave the way for widespread industry success,” says Storm Creek President, Doug Jackson.
The more brands get on board, the more alternatives you’ll have to offer your customers that you know are compliant with PFAS regulations.
Consumer Perception and Corporate Responsibility
This forbes.com article cites a study that shines a light on how consumers perceive companies that are committed to environmental or social issues. A high majority—up to 92%—have more trust and are more loyal to brands that support these issues.
While this research wasn’t exclusive to millennials, it shows the powerful advantage environment-conscious companies have in this market. The author says, “A company targeting the millennial customer as a component of their business model would be wise to become socially and environmentally responsible.”
Consumers who care are doing their research, becoming more informed and following up with their buying dollars. Company branding, then, should include transparent information on what they’re doing about PFAS and other environmental concerns. That’s the best way to help shape your image with the growing number of concerned consumers.
Here are a few strategies to help with this:
- Make this information easy to find on your company website, not buried several pages deep. Dedicate a page that describes what action steps you’ve taken or plan to take, why and when. Include a link to this page in your website footer.
- Include educational information for your customers who aren’t familiar with PFAS and why they’re harmful. Stay updated by regularly reviewing state regulations and keep your customers informed about any changes.
- Consistently inform your customers through social media posts and newsletters about specific action steps you’ve taken to eliminate PFAS in your products.
Wrapping It Up
Taking proactive measures to adapt to current and upcoming PFAS regulations is important on several levels. Legally, of course. But also to aid the promo industry in doing its part to take environmental responsibility today and for future generations. This ensures the industry cares along with consumers, and is collaborating to find workable solutions. This in turn will only help the bottom line.