Patagonia today announced a strategic investment in a chemical company focused on making high-performance textile treatments based on natural raw materials.
Beyond Surface Technologies, a Swiss firm, was founded in 2008 by scientists and marketing experts with more than 40 years of experience in the textile industry. They left careers at big chemical companies to build a business based on the premise that it is possible to make textile treatments based on natural raw materials — without sacrificing performance or reducing the lifespan of a product.
The investment comes through Patagonia’s “$20 Million & Change” fund, which launched in 2013 to “help innovative, like-minded companies bring solutions to the environmental crisis and other positive change through business.”
Chemicals are a required component in achieving the high performance needed for harsh outdoor conditions — it’s what makes waterproof materials stand up to torrential wilderness downpours, jackets that can resist wind on a steep pitch and pants that have the right amount of protection as you’re knee-deep in fresh powder, Patagonia says.
However, these chemicals which are relied on for technical performance can be toxic and persist in the environment, a serious issue Patagonia says it is tackling aggressively. It plans to share any breakthroughs Beyond Surface Technologies may produce with the entire outdoor industry in order to amplify the environmental impact to the greatest extent possible.
“Patagonia’s investment gives us the opportunity to accelerate testing and reduce time to market for our pipeline of groundbreaking new treatments for the entire apparel industry, Matthias Foessel, CEO of Beyond Surface Technologies said in a statement. “Patagonia is enabling us to grow even faster — benefiting the environment and enhancing product performance — while remaining completely independent and in control of the original founders.”
In related chemicals news, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute late last year announced it would begin offering a Material Health Certificate, a tool for manufacturers across industries to communicate their work toward chemically optimized products. The Material Health Certificate marks the first time the Institute has offered reporting of its comprehensive methodology in only one category.