Read the full article by Cindy Hodnett (Furniture Today)

“Along with pattern, texture and the annual color-of-the-year reveals, evolving legislation is a hot topic for textile suppliers this year, specifically the rollout of restrictions on PFAS chemicals in performance fabrics.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroakyl substances) are used in a variety of products to prevent stains including carpets and textiles, including some performance fabrics, and are described as a class of chemicals that don’t naturally break down.

Currently, Maine, New York, California, and Colorado are the first states to enact legislation restricting the use of ‘intentionally added or regulated’ PFAS in textiles, and as the industry and legislative representatives work to further define the exact parameters for compliance on eliminating PFAS from performance fabrics, textile companies that provide product to furniture manufacturers are developing strategies to address the issue.

Milliken & Company

Benji Bagwell is vice president of decor for the textile business at Milliken & Company. He noted that Milliken is ready to support furniture manufacturers with fabric that meets the new PFAS mandate.

‘In 2023, we’re continuing to bet big on performance fabrics for outdoor and indoor applications and pushing the market to redefine what it means to be a performance fabric,’ he said. ‘A few things drive that decision. First is the rise in awareness of PFAS and the continued regulation and legislation happening at the state level on removing PFAS from home textiles.

‘There are some aggressive deadlines already in place,’ Bagwell continued. ‘If furniture OEMs want to transition their supply chain into non-PFAS alternatives seamlessly, then they have to start making those decisions today. We’re confident that we’re positioned to partner with the market as soon as needed to provide them with performance fabric options that deliver functionality and design immediately.’

Staining on fabric has always been a key issue for the residential textile industry, even with PFAS finishes on the market, according to Bagwell. He noted that non-PFAS stain repellents work ‘exceptionally well’ on water-based stains but sometimes don’t work well at repelling oil-based stains.

‘An important thing to remember is that cleanability is not just about repellency,’ Bagwell said. ‘It’s also a measure of how easily you can remove the stain. In most instances, if your kids drop mayo, a slice of pepperoni, salad dressing or any of the other common household oil-based products, the chances are you won’t see it right away. If not cleaned promptly, these products will soak into the fabric even if treated with PFAS finishes.

‘The key is being able to remove stains, not necessarily repelling them all,’ he continued. ‘This is why performance-based fabrics will grow in popularity. Fabrics that can be cleaned with various stain removal cleaners will continue to provide the modern family the functionality and design appeal they desire for years to come.

‘These lifestyle-type fabrics provide a functional solution and reassure furniture owners that any potential concerns from PFAS treatments are no longer present in the environment where their pets and kids interact daily.’

Glen Raven Inc.

Glen Raven Inc., parent company to Sunbrella performance fabric, recently announced that the company was phasing out PFAS chemicals across its global fabric portfolio and incorporating non-PFAS solutions into production as of February. With the shift, Glen Raven is implementing non-PFAS solutions, including proprietary technologies like Color to the Core.

‘Since 2015, our global research and development team has been working with accredited research laboratories and universities to evaluate and develop the best alternatives to PFAS-based finishes,’ said Dave Swers, president and COO. ‘We have invested significantly in this work, and the solutions we’re introducing will allow us to continue providing anyone who purchases our fabrics with the best-in-class performance they expect while minimizing our environmental impact as an organization.

‘Our Sunbrella Contract fabrics have included non-PFAS solutions since 2019, and we look forward to implementing non-PFAS solutions across our portfolio.’

Swers said that Sunbrella performance begins at the fiber level and is strengthened by proprietary processes, including a PFAS-based solution that was previously used to enhance repellency of Sunbrella fabrics. The transition to a non-PFAS solution will not impact the ability to clean Sunbrella but will result in reduced levels of oil repellency.

In anticipation of this challenge, Glen Raven recently developed a new and proprietary cleaning solution, Sunbrella Extract Oil-Based Stain Remover, to aid in the removal of oil-based stains. This cleaning product is also compatible with previously produced Sunbrella fabrics.”…