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Sustainability

Redefining how we interact with nature

Every dimpora membrane is engineered to be as kind to the environment as it is tough against the elements.

Sustainability is the very reason why we were born, and it shows in every part of our operations.

We actively support environmental initiatives and encourage our partners and customers to be responsible. Sustainability is not just a goal but an ongoing journey, and we constantly work to improve our practices and reduce our impact.

Sustainability pillars

No toxic chemicals

dimpora® products are 100% PFAS-free and produced without any harmful chemicals.

PFAS, those “forever chemicals,” are commonly found in waterproof clothing for their ability to repel water. But, their lasting presence in the environment and potential accumulation in our bodies have raised some serious concerns, sparking debates and calls for stricter regulations. 

We’re committed to not only meeting the highest environmental standards but also ensuring the safety and well-being of our customers and the planet. And it seems we’re not alone in this thinking, as more regions around the world have started to restrict these chemicals.

We also avoid using harmful solvents. Beyond their negative impact on the environment, working with these substances can pose significant health risks if proper safety measures aren’t in place. 

By choosing dimpora® membranes, you’re part of reducing the environmental footprint by an impressive 96% compared to traditional solvent-based alternatives*. That’s making a choice that benefits both you and the environment.

Biobased and Biodegradability

Our technology sets us apart as the only one that offers the flexibility to easily select and switch raw materials. This unique capability means we can use biobased, biodegradable, recycled, or any other materials that promote circularity.

Biobased

The production of bio-based materials taps into renewable resources, helping to shrink the carbon footprint and bolster the circular economy, especially when waste and side streams serve as the raw materials. Opting for bio-based doesn’t mean compromising on quality; these materials can match the durability of traditional fossil-based counterparts. This makes them a viable option for dimpora® BIO membranes, combining sustainability with performance. Check out our blog post on bio-based materials to dive deeper into this topic.

Biodegradable 

We are currently developing our biodegradable membranes to be ready for the market to reduce microplastic accumulation.

Recyclability

Making performance clothes recyclable is tricky because they’re made of different layers and materials to keep you comfortable and dry. But, we’re not backing down. We’re tackling this challenge from all angles to make our products fully recyclable. Here’s how we do it:

Chemical recycling

dimpora® membranes can be recycled chemically, even when they’re part of a multi-layer fabric, without having to separate those layers first. Even if these technologies are in development, our trials were successful, giving us back valuable materials that we can use to make new stuff.

Considering that outdoor sports gear usually lasts about 5 years (most times even more), by the time garments with dimpora® membranes need to be recycled, the technology will be ready to handle them on a big scale.

Mono materiality

And there’s more, we’re also working on creating textiles made entirely from one type of material. Imagine a 3-layer fabric that’s all from the same family, making recycling a breeze. 

Right now, we’re on the search for adhesives that match up with our materials, ensuring that everything we make can be fully recycled without a hitch. This way, we’re aiming for a solid 100% recyclability rate.

Production and Impact

The way we produce our membranes already has minimal environmental impact. However, we can always do better, and here’s how.

We are the only membrane brand with the ability to fully manage a variety of thermoplastic polymers in our production. This means we can tweak the type of polymer we use to lower the environmental impact even further.

RAW MATERIALS

Our cradle-to-gate Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)** showed an important aspect of our production process: the most significant environmental impact comes from the choice of raw materials, not from the manufacturing process itself. This is actually great news. It means that the way we produce our membranes already has minimal environmental impact. This insight is invaluable as it guides us towards making smarter choices about the raw materials we use moving forward.

We minimize our environmental impact by sourcing raw materials locally to reduce transportation and CO2 emissions. Additionally, we carefully assess these materials for toxicity, energy use in production, and bio-based origins.

COMPOUNDING

Our process ensures a uniform mix of components without solvents, reducing our environmental footprint compared to traditional solvent-based methods. Right now, we’re on the search for partners who are into renewable energy, like hydropower and solar panels, to help us push our sustainability goals even further.

EXTRUSION

Our research showed that the type of extra layer we add to support our membranes during extrusion can really affect how much they impact the environment, both in terms of the resources they use and how they need to be recycled later.

Our standard dimpora® membranes, which use a more complex support layer, end up creating about twice as much greenhouse gas as our dimpora® BIO membranes. We’re working hard to reduce this complex structure and pick materials with minimal environmental impact.

WASHING

Thanks to our industrial washing process, we guarantee that no harmful chemicals are left in the water. After filtering, it’s clean enough to be put back into circulation.

We’re teaming up with textile partners who share our commitment to sustainability, focusing on minimizing water waste and ensuring the water we use can be safely returned to the environment.

LAMINATION

We are currently conducting studies in that direction. However, they are still in progress and not yet finalized. Rest assured, we will provide this information as soon as we have it ready.

OUR SUPPLY CHAIN

Currently, our supply chain is located in Central Europe, with the heart of our production nestled in Switzerland.

We are working in collaboration with partners from both the plastics and textile sectors, crafting our products with precision and care.

  • R&D: Switzerland
  • Compounding: Germany or Switzerland
  • Extrusion: Switzerland
  • Washing: Germany
  • Lamination: Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Portugal

Based on the value chain, our products are Swiss-made (naked membrane).

CO2 Emissions

We work with many different partners and we only choose the ones who are as committed to reducing environmental impact as much as we are.

All of our Swiss manufacturers are certified members of the “voluntary environmental protection and energy efficiency” movement and thereby confess to the active reduction of CO2 emissions and optimization of energy efficiency.

Our approach is all about low impact, but we’re big on data to back it up. Here’s a peek into how we craft our membranes and their environmental footprint per rolling meter (rm).

dimpora®
2.48 kg CO2e / rolling meter**

  • Raw materials: 2.18 (kg CO2e / rm)
  • Processing energy & waste treatment: 0.26 (kg CO2e / rm)
  • Transport: 0.04 (kg CO2e / rm)
  • TOTAL: 2.48 kg CO2e / rm

dimpora® BIO (with biogenic carbon uptake)
1.15 kg CO2e / rolling meter**

  • Raw materials: 0.865 (kg CO2e / rm)
  • Processing energy & waste treatment: 0.23 (kg CO2e / rm)
  • Transport: 0.05 (kg CO2e / rm)
  • TOTAL: 1.15 kg CO2e / rm

dimpora® has a higher greenhouse gas emissions value than dimpora® BIO due to the polymer used in the support layer.

Water and Land Use

Usually, when we talk about the environment, we zoom in on CO2 emissions. But let’s not forget, there’s more to the story—like how much water we use and the amount of land we’re taking up.

Water use

dimpora®**

  • Raw materials: 0.205 (m3/ rm)
  • Processing energy & waste treatment: < 0.001 (m3/ rm)
  • Transport:  < 0.001 (m3/ rm)
  • TOTAL: 0.209 m3/rm

dimpora® BIO**
Contains biobased polymers, which require more water use.

  • Raw materials: 4.00 (m3/rm)
  • Processing energy & waste treatment: 0.003 (m3/ rm) 
  • Transport: 0.001 (m3/rm)
  • TOTAL: 4.01 (m3/rm)
Land use

dimpora®**

  • Raw materials: 1.22 (pt/rm)
  • Processing energy & waste treatment: 0.62 (pt/rm)
  • Transport: 0.65 (pt/m)
  • TOTAL: 2.49 pt/rm

dimpora® BIO**
Higher value due to its biobased origin.

  • Raw materials: 15.84 (pt/rm)  
  • Processing energy & waste treatment: 0.43 (pt/rm) 
  • Transport: 0.76 (pt/rm) 
  • TOTAL: 17.06 pt/rm

Transparency

We’re all about setting goals, but we’re also realists. Chasing sky-high targets can sometimes make us miss the forest for the trees, rushing into things without seeing the whole picture.

  • 2019 – we proved that ditching PFAS was possible.
  • 2022 – we eliminated solvents and drastically reduced our impact.
  • 2023 – our first collection solvent-free

This philosophy guided us to initially develop a high-performing membrane without relying on PFAS, opting instead for TPU, a go-to oil-based polymer in the membrane industry. 

This choice was strategic, aiming to introduce safer products for our customers. Sure, we were still using solvents, and no, it wasn’t perfect. But it was a solid start, proving that ditching PFCs/PFAS, was possible.

Next, we evolved the technology to eliminate solvents entirely, drastically cutting our environmental impact. 

However, this solution wasn’t perfect either; laminating TPU to fabric introduced complexity in materials, making recycling a headache. Our response? To embark on a journey toward recyclability, select polymers for our membranes that either play nice with recycling streams or match the chemical composition of the fabrics they’re bonded to.

The dream? Finding a bio-based polymer that not only cuts emissions by another 88% but can also biodegrade when we say so.

Getting there needs extensive research and collaboration with the right people, not just for sourcing materials like adhesives and fabrics but also for working with recyclers and composters. This isn’t a solo journey; it’s about joining forces with partners who are just as pumped to make a difference.

And let’s remember our customers, the brands. We need them on board for this wild, windy, and thrilling ride. We’re not claiming to have it all figured out—anyone who does is probably skipping some details. But we’re holding our ground, always aiming to outdo our last effort. If we’re not proud of what we’re putting out there, why bother?

Our vision for the “holy grail” product is a laminate that combines solvent-free production, exceptional breathability and waterproofing, oil repellence, softness, stretch, and complete recyclability (including the membrane, fabrics, and glue). It should be bio-based, sourced from waste streams, biodegradable, and ideally, made from recycled materials. Achieving this would be a win for us and a groundbreaking advancement for sustainability in our industry. Now that would be something.

Planning for Asia

We are working to establish a second supply chain in Asia to be able to supply larger volumes, offer more competitive pricing, and be close to many of the garment manufacturers. However, we usually get questions about how this will impact our sustainability journey. So here’s our plan:

How will this affect our CO2 footprint? 

To ensure our European membranes remain competitively priced, we need to source fabrics from Asia. However, this introduces a significant CO2 cost, which makes us think about how to make smart decisions that are good for both to balance economic and environmental considerations.

The reality is that many brands, regardless of their size, make their clothes in Asia. This means we have to send our materials made in Europe over to Asia, adding more carbon emissions.

We’re constantly hovering the need to make our products affordable and as sustainable as possible, which involves some tough choices and careful planning.

Why Asia?

The way we see Asia’s role in the world of making things is starting to shift. More and more, companies there are aiming high to be more sustainable. This change is a big deal for us as we pick partners who care as much about the environment as we do.

Asia’s textile industry stands out because of its long history and deep knowledge. It has special technologies and machines that can do a lot more than others around the world. This expertise is really important for making high-quality and new kinds of fabrics.

We’re working closely with Asia in a way that’s smart for our business and sticks to our sustainability goals. We’re dealing with the tricky parts of making and moving products around the world, and working with different partners, all to help make the clothing industry better for the planet.

Sustainable goals, solid plans

We are committed to minimizing our carbon emissions and overall environmental impact. However, as for anyone else, our journey towards complete environmental/social compatibility is one that never ends – there are and always will be ways and areas to improve.

These are the areas we are currently focusing on to bring our operations one step closer to a fully sustainable business.

01Energy shift

We’re passionate about making our production process as neutral as possible, but we’ve got to be honest – a significant chunk of our energy still comes from finite resources like coal and gas. We’re on a mission to change that. We’re planning to shift more and more of our energy use to renewables, like solar and hydropower, and we’re encouraging our partners to make the switch to alternative energy sources too.

02Minimal waste

On the recycling front, we’re focusing on finding new lives for support layers and other by-products from our manufacturing process. We’re also looking at ways to use less material in the first place, especially support materials, to minimize waste.

03Tailored sustainability

Our goal is to offer a product line that aligns perfectly with every customer’s sustainability strategy. Whether you’re looking for mono-material products that are easier to recycle, options that are biobased, or even biodegradable solutions, we’ve got you covered.

04Certifications

When it comes to certifications, we’re still on the journey. The truth is, some certifications don’t quite measure up to the high sustainability standards we set for ourselves, and they can be prohibitively expensive. We’re exploring other ways to prove our credentials that better reflect our commitment to the environment.