The Furniture Industry Research Association

The centre of knowledge for the furniture industry

Knowledge Hub Article

Published on 30th November, 2015
by Furniture Industry Research Association

The potential impact of flame retardants on the 'end of life' of upholstered furniture and furnishings

At a glance:

The upholstered furniture and furnishings industry is facing challenges with a number of flame retardant (FR) chemicals being placed on REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) candidate lists. In addition some are also being considered for designation as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s). These factors have a significant impact on the use of, and responsibilities for, such chemicals and, potentially, on how to deal with products containing them at the end of their lives.

Products containing persistent organic pollutants are classed as hazardous waste at the end of their lives if the concentrations of these chemicals exceed designated limits. Hazard classification, of waste is also categorised by the relevant authority in respect to the Waste Framework Directive. If classed as hazardous this has a number of implications such as export of waste overseas and importing of flame retardant chemicals into the UK.


Highlights:

This report investigates the impact of the presence of flame retardants on the furniture industry in relation to the disposal of upholstery and furnishings. Specifically it focuses on:

  • The nature of the FR problem and how it relates to furniture
  • FR chemicals used previously, currently and potentially in the future
  • How these chemicals are governed and controlled throughout manufacturing and waste stages
  • Future solutions covering issues such as labelling, disposal and traceability

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