What certifications should be considered when buying foam and nonwovens?
An inadequate product or one that is produced outside the norms can bring long term problems. That is why all foams and nonwovens at Eurospuma are certified to guarantee the quality of your mattress or sofa.
But what certifications shall I consider?
Firstly, it all depends on the application of foam and fibre and the use we will give it. However, we can look at certifications in three main groups: safety, quality and those specific to an application or country.
One of the most important safety-related certifications is OEKO-TEX, which ensures that the materials tested do not have harmful substances and are produced in an ecologically and socially responsible manner.
At Eurospuma, 93% of our portfolio (between foams and nonwoven fabrics) has a STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®label, which certifies the absence of harmful substances in our products, making them harmless to human health. For some applications, such as baby items or hospitals, this certification is more important, but it is an advantage to any foam.
There is also growing consumer concern about environmental issues, so a certification that attests that there is a commitment to sustainability may be essential when deciding to buy. Made IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® certification ensures that products have been produced in environmentally friendly facilities and in safe and socially responsible workplaces.
OEKO-TEX labels are thus a benchmark of trust, security, and sustainability worldwide.
The EU Ecolabel was established in 1992 and is regulated by the European Parliament and the European Council. It is a label of environmental excellence that is attributed to products and services that meet high environmental standards throughout its life cycle: from raw material extraction to production, distribution, and disposal. The EU Ecolabel promotes the circular economy by encouraging producers to generate less waste and CO2 during the manufacturing process. The EU Ecolabel criteria also encourage companies to develop products that are durable, easy to repair and recycle. Many companies use the EU Ecolabel criteria to obtain guidance on best green practices when developing their product lines.
The REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) certification is the norm that controls the use of all chemicals used in all products in the EU and the UK. It also promotes alternative methods for assessing the hazards of substances with a view to reducing the number of animal trials. Companies must demonstrate how the substance can be used safely and should communicate to users the risk management measures it envisages. If risks cannot be managed, authorities may restrict the use of substances in different ways. In the long run, the most dangerous substances should be replaced by less dangerous substances.
EUROPUR (European Association of Manufacturers of Flexible Polyurethane Foam Blocks) also offers a certification for polyurethane foam mattresses: CertiPur. This certification specifies whether a chemical (present in polyurethane foam) can be used and the maximum quantities that can be used. CertiPUR compliant foams are certified to be manufactured without heavy metals, without carcinogenic or allergenic dyes, without phthalate plasticizers and with low levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Certifications with comparable quality requirements for polyurethane foam are STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® and the EU Ecolabel.
Quality certifications are usually for producers and not specifically for the product. For example, ISO 9001 ensures that the company's processes are regulated according to a standard, giving the customer a guarantee that the quality of its products is also regulated.
The specific certifications will be those related to certain applications, such as certifications of fireproof standards, antibacterial capacity, soundproofing, etc. The most sought after (and most common) are fireproof, both for foams and fibers, being very important in the automotive sector, construction/coating, and furniture. There are markets in certain countries that value these certifications and markets that seek certification by higher standards.
In the UK, the ‘Fire safety of furniture and furnishings in the home’ norm specifies the tests that should be undertaken for foams used in furniture. The test used depends on the type of foam that should always be tested separately, in combination with a non-flammable roofing material.
Patents and trademarks are also a seal of credibility for companies. The brand behind a particular product is very important because it inspires trust, at the time of purchase, or in the daily use of a particular product. The brand is a company’s most valuable asset and therefore it is precisely what will allow it to achieve notoriety, distinction, customers and, ultimately, sales.
In short, the certifications of foams and fibers should act as a guarantee of quality and compliance with standards required depending on their application and use.