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Foam quality scheme takes off

By David Reed, UT EditorPrague-CertiPUR, the product quality scheme developed by Europur, the European Association of Flexible Foam Blocks Manufacturers, is taking off, with about a quarter of those expected to participate in the scheme having registered, just two months after its official launch. And “I’ll be disappointed if more than 80 percent of those eligible have not registered by the end of the year,” said Ward Dupont, the organisation’s president, discussing the situation shortly after the end of the group’s general assembly, held 9-10 June in Prague.The scheme is intended to assure furniture makers and other direct customers of the foam block makers that the PU foams supplied by companies registered under the scheme meet the CertiPUR criteria (see table), he explained. After a little opposition was voiced at the Europur general assembly of 2004, the scheme was voted through by all the other members, Dupont said.Table: CertiPUR requirementsHeavy metals (various levels)Tributyl tin <0.5 parts per million, ppm)Phthalates <0.01 %wToluene diamine and methylenediphenylamine <5ppmVolatile organic compound levels below 0.5 mg/m3.In addition, the isocyanates used in the production of PU foam have to contain less than 0.07% total chlorine.The first certificates are expected to be handed out “by next week,” said Theo Speeleveld, Europur’s outgoing secretary general, adding that the qualification process takes about three weeks. Foam makers first apply to join the scheme and, after questioning, have to supply a sample representative of the range of products they make for independent analysis by one of a number of testing organisations. Then, assuming they meet all the criteria, the certificate is awarded.Certificates are valid for three years, after which they must be reviewed, and only then will Europur learn whether the scheme has been valued by its customers, Dupont indicated.Joop Koster, senior business manager for silicone additives with GE Advanced Materials raised a point during the general assembly, by asking why the scheme was restricted to foamers. Like many raw material suppliers, GE issues typical formulations in its product datasheets, “could we be allowed to offer additives which guarantee that foams made using our materials (in the typical formulation) meet the CertiPUR requirements?” he asked.”CertiPUR is a foam standard,” Dupont replied, “to transition the proposal to raw materials needs some deliberation.” In a subsequent interview, he clarified the situation by saying the scheme would always require the actual foam maker to be certified, while welcoming the interest. “It shows the chemical suppliers see a value to it [the CertiPUR scheme],” he suggested.There have also been some enquiries about CertiPUR from companies outside of Europe, reported Speeleveld, with firms based in the US and South Africa asking to participate, since they sell into the European market; they would be treated as non-Europur members, which means the fees required are higher but, in principle, Europur would be happy to see the scheme adopted as an industry standard, he indicated. “The use of the trademark symbol is now registered in 25 countries,” Speeleveld said, adding that the rights to use the R symbol are expected to be granted in the next 12 months.”

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