23 May 2024, 11:09
By Furniture News Feb 28, 2022

The NBF's agenda for change

Whatever the immediate challenges faced from a longer-term and broader business perspective, sustainability must be on everyone’s agenda this year – states the National Bed Federation (NBF), which has been working on sustainability related projects for several years … 

Whether it is in response to evolving consumer and customer pressure or ongoing new Government regulation, the need to address the climate crisis is growing in importance and urgency.

Already, the NBF has:

• Set up an NBF Circular Economy Committee to guide and advise us on what is important for the industry

• Set an ambitious target of 75% diversion of mattresses from landfill by 2028 – and, to measure our progress towards that target, we have been keeping tabs on how many mattresses are disposed of and what happens to them, with our mattress End of Life (EoL) surveys. According to the most recent EoL report we produced, in early 2019, it would take about 50 years to achieve that at the current rate. We have recently commissioned our fourth EoL report, due to be published in the spring, which will reveal how much that rate may have accelerated in the past three years

• Published the NBF Policy on the Sale of Used and Reconditioned Mattresses and Used Components and Materials 

• Embarked on a research programme with Manchester Metropolitan University aimed at determining a more effective ways to test the cleanliness of fillings

• Worked in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland to develop an Outline Business Case for an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for old mattresses

• Published our 10 key Ecodesign Principles for the UK Bed Sector

• Worked closely with mattress recyclers and the Textile Recycling Association on the creation of a Register of Approved Mattress Recyclers (RAMR), backed by a third-party independent auditing process

• Kept governments across the UK informed of our progress – resulting in our ecodesign principles being highlighted as best practice in the Waste Prevention Plan for England, published for consultation by DEFRA in March 2021 

This year, we are looking forward to a number of projects coming to fruition and launch, including:

The NBF Pledge for our Planet

We are determined to encourage and support our members to tackle climate change. This five-point pledge has been designed to kickstart the journey, and supplies a roadmap to progress via initial benchmarking and then policies and procedures for reduction. It is our intention to back up this pledge with practical guidance and support.

The NBF Ecodesign Assessment Scheme

Having published a guide to internationally recognised ecodesign principles for mattresses, we will be launching an assessment tool and an accreditation scheme for scoring and rating products according to those principles. In the light of the Competition and Markets Authority’s recently published Guidance on Environmental Claims on Goods and Services, which highlights the need for clear, substantiated claims, tools such as this will be an important defence to show compliance with consumer protection laws in this arena. 

Register of Approved Mattress Recyclers (RAMR) 

Pilot audits are currently taking place with the mattress recyclers who kicked off this initiative. So, we are looking forward to an official launch of RAMR in the spring. RAMR has been created to provide a level playing field, and to signpost credible suppliers in a new and rapidly growing industry which has in the past had its image tainted by the actions of rogue traders. RAMR aims to sort the wheat from the chaff. 

Extended Producer Responsibility

The Government has stated that it has every intention of introducing an EPR scheme for mattresses (and other furniture) in the second half of the decade. We already know that, despite the increasing number of businesses already offering takeback and recycling services, there is still a huge amount of products being handled by local authorities. EPR is designed to transfer that burden to industry. The NBF has already set up a working party to engage with Government and to scope out what an industry-led EPR scheme could and should look like. In 2022 those discussions will continue, and the working party is being extended to include other stakeholders – in particular, retailers. 

Readers can keep abreast of the NBF’s sustainability work on the NBF Green pages of its website.

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