By Jim Rossi, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
The University of Michigan won, Yale came in second, and UC Berkeley’s team placed third from among over 100 teams nationwide in Patagonia’s inaugural Eco Innovation Case Competition. The innovation tilt took place at the Center for Responsible Business, Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley on April 21-22.
The Patagonia case study concerns DWR – Durable Water Repellent, a coating applied to clothing to make it more water repellent. DWR loses effectiveness over time as it wears off, necessitating repeated applications or replacement of gear. And DWR, a C8 long-chain fluorocarbon, turns out to be a persistent environmental pollutant that accumulates in rivers and lakes.
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Few companies have tied their identities more closely to environmental responsibility than Patagonia, the outdoor apparel manufacturer founded decades ago by the rock climber Yvon Choinard.
Patagonia’s mission statement is “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” It has launched three environmental philanthropies, contributes to scores of environmental causes, and invests heavily in innovations aimed at reducing its use of energy, water and dangerous chemicals.