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KEEN's Detox the Planet Initiative Challenges Outdoor Footwear Industry to be PFC-Free by 2025

KEEN publishes the process it used to become PFC-Free in an open-source format so competitors in industry can follow and achieve the same goal in less time

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KEEN, the outdoor footwear brand committed to leaving the world a better place than we found it, has shared an open-sourced model for how it maintains a PFC-Free supply chain. In celebration of Earth Day, and to inspire the industry to take action, KEEN has issued a challenge to the outdoor footwear industry to be PFC free by 2025. Product developers and those interested in adopting the model that KEEN has followed since 2014 to eliminate PFCs from its supply chain and products may visit: www.keenfootwear.com/en-ca/detox/

PFCs are a class of about 5,000 fluorinated chemicals, also known as PFAS — or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, often called "forever chemicals" because they don't break down in the environment. These toxic chemicals enter the environment where the components, finished products and chemicals themselves are manufactured, often through contaminated water or waste, and spread easily. They are found in everything from fast food wrappers and drinking water to durable water repellent (DWR) treatments in outdoor apparel and footwear.

“Over the last seven years, we have been researching and developing what is now a fully proven process to eliminate PFCs from our products without sacrificing performance or product integrity,” says Erik Burbank, Vice President, The KEEN Effect. “Now that we have refined the process, we want to share it with our competitors for the common good of our planet. As part of our Detox the Planet Initiative, we want other brands to become PFC-Free, too, and this will help them accomplish that much faster. By keeping PFCs out of our supply chain and product, we’ve kept 180 tonnes of fluorinated chemicals out of the environment during the last seven years. This is a time sensitive issue and if we collaborate across our industry, we can accelerate the positive impact on our planet.”

KEEN's Detox the Planet Initiative was established in 2012 to take proactive action to identify and remove harmful chemicals in its supply chain and replace them with safe and effective alternatives.

The Road to Becoming PFC-Free


Through the application of the "Precautionary Principle," KEEN was able to find and remove PFCs that were being applied to components and materials unnecessarily. Specifically, KEEN performed a complete audit of every component that goes into their products and worked with vendors and partners that were able to quickly remove about 65 percent of the PFCs within its supply chain.

For the remaining 35 percent, KEEN invested significant time and resources over four years, working with experts in the development of non-PFC water repellency solutions. This included thousands of hours of lab and field testing before ultimately delivering safe, effective and affordable options.

KEEN estimates it committed 10,000 hours to reach its goal of becoming PFC-free and invested well into seven figures to support this effort. For more information on KEEN’s findings, and PFCs overall, you can read its Green Paper here.

About KEEN:

Driven by a passion to make the outside and trades accessible for all, KEEN is a values-led, family-owned footwear brand from Portland, Oregon committed to creating original and versatile products, enhancing lives, and inspiring adventures outside. Founded in 2003, it launched a revolution in the industry with the debut of the Newport adventure sandal. It continues to launch game-changing products and establish new standards for performance, comfort, and design while actively working to Detox the Planet. The brand formalized its values commitment under the banner of The KEEN Effect. Learn more at www.keenfootwear.com

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