The International Bromine Council (BSEF) has said claims that flame retardants are preventing the recycling and reuse of furniture as part of an EU circular economy are “false”.
Last month, The Alliance for Flame Retardant Free Furniture – composed of furniture and bedding manufacturers, NGOs, firefighter organisations and trade unions – called on EU institutions to address the “unnecessary and unwanted” use of such chemicals “which prevent circularity and climate goals” under the Green Deal.
The alliance said that “many” alternatives to chemical flame retardants exist that are less harmful for human health and the environment.
It also called for harmonisation of flammability standards for furniture across Europe.
This would address the “unwanted use” of flame retardants and barriers in the single market. “A balance should be achieved between fire safety, chemical safety and circularity.”
In its response, BSEF said that concerns over specific substances and their impact on human health or the environment “are dealt with very effectively via strict chemical regulation and review.
Trading off risks between chemical and fire safety should be avoided.”
The assertion that flame retardants increase fire toxicity “is also false”, it said.
The European Furniture Industry Confederation and the European Federation of Furniture Manufacturers have an “important challenge on their hands” concerning end-of-life treatment of furniture, the trade body added. “We see encouraging signs that solutions are and will be found to enable greater reuse, reparability and recycling of furniture.”
Furniture fires are “uniquely hazardous”, BSEF said. “Products placed on the market in the EU should be meeting the highest performance standards possible – that should be the goal.”
In March, BSEF filed a legal challenge against the European Commission’s ban on the use of halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) in electronic displays under the EU ecodesign Directive.