Technical presentations featured at this year’s spring meeting of the Polyurethane Foam Association looked at how the the US foam industry reduce its environmental burden. Sarah Houlton reports.
They covered a wide range of subjects, including how to manage waste foam to minimise environmental impact; the need for changes to anti-microbial testing; improving the environmental profile of foams and retaining or improving flame retardancy; and finally, the opportunities which natural polyols can offer in polyurethane formulations.
Utilising waste foam
Sara Petty, a senior research scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute, reported on the April meeting of a stakeholder group in Berkeley, California, looking at how waste foam can be managed responsibly.
She explained that the 2013 update to California’s Technical Bulletin 117 made it possible for furniture made with flame retardant-free foam to comply with this smoulder standard, and it is now increasingly available. But what about the FR-filled furniture it replaces?
TB117-2013 has been much more successful in reducing flame retardant use than a ban, Petty said. “Banning chemicals doesn’t work as we just move on to another chemical, which we don’t necessarily understand,” she said. The new standard recognises that fires start in the fabric cover, not the foam, and therefore TB117-2013 focuses on smoulder-resistant upholstery fabrics, allowing flame retardants to be omitted from foams in…