Today, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (USPIRG Education Fund) delivered 48,000 petition signatures to the CEO of Columbia Sportswear, calling for the phase-out of toxic PFAS from the company’s supply chain.
PFAS are a class of more than 12,000 toxic chemicals, known to heavily pollute the nation’s drinking water sources, accumulate in wildlife, and public health threat. Despite their threat, PFAS are widely used in the outerwear industry – in coatings and membranes – to make clothing water and stain resistant.
While several U.S. and European-based outdoor apparel companies, including Patagonia, LL Bean, and Jack Wolfskin, have already phased out or committed to phasing out chemicals, Columbia Sportswear has yet to take any action. similar measures.
The company received an F rating in a recent scorecard published by NRDC, US PIRG Education Fund and Fashion FWD for its weak PFAS action.
At Columbia Sportswear’s annual shareholder meeting last month, CEO Tim Boyle noted that the company “has been focused on reducing our use of PFAS and ultimately eliminating it.” As of this writing, however, Columbia Sportswear has yet to set a date for the phase-out.
A time-limited commitment is essential to assure the company’s consumers and the general public that the company will act decisively and quickly to protect public health in the face of the overwhelming evidence that PFAS pose a significant threat to people and the planet.
The continued use of PFAS in the company’s supply chain directly contravenes Columbia Sportswear’s vision to promote sustainability and clean water supply worldwide. It also violates the company’s vision for sustainability, exacerbates risk for investors, and puts Columbia behind many competitors who have pledged to phase out all PFAS use from their products and supply chains.
Additionally, proposed restrictions on the use of PFAS in apparel in the United States and Europe could leave the company behind in the rapidly changing legal landscape around the uses of these chemicals.
To do its part in protecting the public from the dangers of PFAS and to protect its own reputation and its consumers, Columbia Sportswear should immediately announce a timeline for phasing out these toxic chemicals.