18 November 2019

Policy paper – Furniture without flame retardants: safe fire safety for everyone

The Alliance for Flame Retardant Free Furniture (www.safefurniture.eu) - where ECOS is an active partner - is releasing a policy paper calling on EU-wide action against the use of flame retardants in furniture and bedding and for the EU institutions to tap into the potential of toxic-free safe fire safety in support of a circular economy.

The use of toxic flame retardants is very common, even though many have been documented to have harmful effects and be dangerous for human health, animals and the environment.

When it comes to furniture and bedding, toxic flame retardants may be added to materials like foam or textiles to comply with old fashioned fire safety standards, even if these substances are not proven to prevent fire and in fact lead to an increase in fire and fume toxicity [4], gravely endangering people’s lives and health. A number of alternative solutions exist, which do not require the use of flame retardants in furniture, namely design-based solutions for furniture and buildings, supported by improved fire safety education for example.

Industry is adapting practices for a long-term, sustainable and toxic-free approach. New, less flammable materials will need to be introduced into the market, a process that is currently not viable given the regulatory and standards-based framework for furniture fire safety.

Doreen Fedrigo, Head of Circular Economy at ECOS & member of the Alliance said:

Removing toxic flame retardants is key in supporting the transition to a cleaner and safer circular economy in the furniture sector, enabling an increase in quality and durability of these products, but also, a safe and trusted environment for material reuse and end-of-life treatment. Recently adopted EU legislation under the Ecodesign Directive which bans the use of halogenated flame retardants in electronic displays is an exemplary approach for eliminating toxic substances from products and should be replicated using the relevant legislative tools in the furniture sector.

To realise our vision for toxic-free fire safety, an EU-wide action is needed against the use of flame retardants in furniture and bedding. The Alliance is ready to engage with EU institutions and discuss concrete recommendations to achieve a truly safe fire safety.

ECOS is co-funded by the European Commission and EFTA

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