Huntsman, Chemours alliance provides sustainable protection for textiles

The next time you spill something on a pair of jeans and it rolls right off or the ketchup stain on your shirt washes out with ease, it may be thanks to a 25-year partnership between Huntsman and Chemours.

In 1991, Huntsman Textile Effects* and Chemours# combined their over 200 years of product formulation and textile processing knowledge to become leaders in the development of protection solutions. Through the alliance, Huntsman has delivered the newest, sustainable protection technologies to the global textile industry.

A Win-Win Proposition

Twenty years ago, Huntsman was looking to grow its textile fluorochemical business  and approached Chemours with a proposition that would benefit both companies. “With a global marketing team in place, Huntsman would sell Chemours oil- and water-repellent and stain-resistant products to textile mills,” explains Huntsman Marketing Product Manager Lee Howarth.

Chemours has developed a new line of surface protection products based on sustainable short-chain technology (six or less fluorinated carbons) that deliver superior performance, supported by extensive environmental, health and safety testing. ChemoursCapstone® repellent and surfactant products are based on short-chains that cannot break down into PFOA or PFOS in the environment and they are manufactured using patented technology to minimize the presence of residual unreacted raw materials and by-products.

Huntsman sells ChemoursCapstone® repellent and stain release products under the name PHOBOL® CP.  The broad line of Capstone® products includes a stain release finish for cotton, synthetic and blends and oil-, water- and stain-repellent finishes for wool, synthetic and cotton fibers that are used in apparel, industrial and home end-uses.  “The products cause liquids to bead up and roll off so that spills can be blotted up quickly with a clean, dry absorbent cloth,” Howarth says.
PHOBOL® CP products are listed on global regulatory inventories, including the United States (TSCA) and Europe (REACH). We work with customers regarding study data to qualify for specific labeling criteria and to assure proper handling, use and disposal.   Safe storage, handling, use and disposal of all products is given in technical bulletins and product safety data sheets.

Brands and Retailers

Forward-thinking brands and retailers have restricted substances lists and are proactively demanding the best available and most environmentally friendly technologies, including short-chain repellents and release finishes. Because they are writing this requirement into their specs, it is imperative that everyone along the supply chain converts now. By specifying Capstone® repellent and stain release technology, brand houses and retailers are well-positioned for the future to achieve success toward their sustainability goals.

These repellent and stain release finishes can carry the Teflon® fabric protector brand when Teflon® brand performance specifications are met.  The Teflon® brand is recognized worldwide for innovation and high performance, and is known and respected by consumers everywhere. 
Today, Huntsman’s role in the alliance has expanded to include business development and some fluorochemical production.  “We work closely with Chemours on new product development and recently added business development to our responsibilities,” Howarth says. “We call on major brands and retailers, such as Nike and Levi Strauss, to promote our chemistries for their products. A Teflon® brand hangtag on a pair of pants or a shirt has consumer recognition as being a stain-resistant product and the Teflon® brand brings a level of quality and value to the brand for a retailer,” she notes.

Reducing the Environmental Footprint

Chemours has developed and continues to develop comprehensive  knowledge about Capstone® repellent products. Extensive studies show that these products have a favorable environmental, health and safety profile, rapid bioelimination, and are not bioaccumulative.  The products are safe for workers, consumers and the environment when used as intended.

Product stewardship reviews foster a comprehensive analysis of the use, exposure and hazards of a product. For new products, the product life-cycle is evaluated, including industrial and consumer use, and disposal.  Worker and consumer exposure and environmental emissions undergo evaluations and comparisons to hazard data from toxicology studies.

Over the years, product innovations have helped reduce the environmental footprint of the textiles treated with PHOBOL® products. Howarth cites the findings of a study by the University of Cambridge on the ecological and energy profiles of a typical cotton t-shirt. “Researchers took into account how much energy is used to produce and market the t-shirt, as well as how much energy is used once a consumer purchases the product-shirt. They found that 65 percent of the total energy used in the life of the t-shirt is during consumer use. “We do a lot in the production of the shirt to reduce energy usage, but it is a small portion of the lifecycle of the t-shirt. The majority of the footprint is based on what the consumer does,” Howarth says.
Shirts treated with Teflon® fabric protector have a better overall appearance and look newer longer.  The first line of defense is avoiding stains in the first place.  Teflon® fabric protector forms an invisible shield against stains.   Oil and/or water based liquids easily bead up and roll off the garment, avoiding the need for cleaning or laundering.   As a second line of defense, ground-in stains are reduced.   Repellent and stain release products reduce ring-around-the-collar and allow the stains to be washed out in colder wash temperatures. 

Fabrics treated with Teflon® brand repellent technologies have been shown to dry quicker vs. untreated fabrics.  Treated fabrics dried at least 25% faster than untreated fabrics using either tumble dry or air dry.  Even mixed wash loads (treated and untreated pants) vs. all untreated gave 7% reduced dryer time.

“By putting PHOBOL® CP on fabrics, we are reducing the number of times you have to wash a garment. That, in turn, reduces the environmental footprint of that garment.  Analysis has shown if a garment with stain finish could reduce the need to launder by at least one cycle by preventing stains, this would be nearly equivalent to the carbon footprint of the stain treatment itself,” Howarth says. 

When washing a pair of trousers treated with Teflon® fabric protector at a reduced wash temperature of 30°C vs. 60°C, the laundering carbon footprint can be reduced by 33%.  When washing a pair of trousers treated with Teflon® fabric protector at reduced wash temperatures and with 30% faster drying time, the laundering carbon footprint can be reduced by 50%.

Less laundering and scrubbing means fabrics treated with Teflon® look newer and last longer. Our treatments not only save the environment, they also help consumers save money through durability and longevity.  Now more than ever, durability is important to consumers. In today’s economic environment, they expect more value and longevity from the products they purchase.  Stain-resistant garments last through 30 additional washings. This extended wear ability saves U.S. consumers more than $80 million a year and European consumers €97 million a year just in men’s knit shirts, dress shirts and pants.
PHOBOL® is a registered trademark of Huntsman Corporation or an affiliate thereof in one or more, but not all countries. Teflon® and Capstone® are trademarks of Chemours.

* formerly Ciba Specialty Chemicals

#formerly DuPont

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