Looking for “green” at next month’s ISPA in Orlando

Posted by The BiOH Team on February 14, 2013


Mattress industry executives and management will get to see and learn about the environmental, manufacturing and sleep comfort benefits of mattresses made with BiOH polyols when they visit the Latexco booth at the upcoming ISPA Industry Conference, to be held March 6-7 at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Orlando, Florida.

Latexco will feature its BiOH Gel Latex, a non-toxic latex foam, which was introduced during last year’s ISPA EXPO. The Latexco product is available in a wave pattern to provide pressure-point relief and back support. The high density of the gel evenly distributes pressure, while pinholes in the surface allow balanced ventilation. Cooler sleep is an advantage of BiOH polyol technology.

“BiOH Gel Latex has clear benefits for the environment, but it also has other features, such zoning and load-spreading flexibilities,” comments Kevin Callinan, vice president of sales for Latexco, which has worldwide headquarters in Tielt, Belgium. “Since all of our bio gel toppers are open-cell products, we can adjust the zoning to maximize air flow and enhance thermal-regulation properties.”

Today’s environmentally conscious consumers are increasingly seeking green products for their homes. BiOH Gel is produced with BiOH polyols which completely replaces 100 percent of the petroleum based Polyols used in most urethane gels. Preliminary life cycle analysis indicated that manufacturing BiOH polyols requires 60 percent less non-renewable energy and results in less global warming emissions than manufacturing the petroleum polyols we replace.

For every one million pounds of BiOH polyols used, more than 2200 barrels of crude oil are saved. Considering that the industry uses billions of pounds of petroleum polyols, BiOH polyols can have an impact on using less petroleum.


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One Good Guide is One Great Idea for Las Vegas Market

Posted by The BiOH Team on January 24, 2013

Las Vegas Market for BiOH

We are very excited about the Sustainable Furnishings Council’s One Good World program, which includes its One Good Guide Winter 2013 for the Las Vegas Market, January 28-February 1 at the Las Vegas Design Center. This guide will make it easy for buyers to find eco-friendly products at the Market.

To participate in the One Good World program, exhibitors must have submitted an application which included providing documentation that at least two of their collections meet very stringent benchmark criteria as well as standards for low formaldehyde emissions.

The benchmark criteria for latex or bio hybrid foam products require that 100 percent of the foam used is latex or bio hybrid, which reduces petroleum use. Qualifying Las Vegas Market One Good World exhibitors displaying products made with soy-based BiOH Polyols will include G. Romano, Inc. (B-0701), Lazar Industries (B-0612) and Rowe Fine Furniture (C-1312).

We also encourage you to attend the Specialty Sleep Association’s panel presentation, What’s in YOUR mattress? on Monday from 4-5 p.m. Moderated by “eco-chick” designer Sarah Barnard, the panel will discuss growing sales with consumer disclosure labeling.

Interest in eco-friendly materials continues to flourish. We look forward to exploring the Las Vegas Market next week!


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The FTC’s revised Green Guides may impact furniture and bedding marketing/advertising

Posted by Kelsey Ness on November 12, 2012

Green Bed

Claims that a product helps the environment are enticing to consumers. In fact, the 2012 Green Home Furnishings Consumer Study found that people may be buying less but they are buying eco-friendly. Now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a 314-page update to its Green Guides, which are intended to help eliminate confusion among consumers about “green” marketing claims by requiring marketers and advertisers to use clearer, more detailed language.

The Guides also help marketers avoid making sweeping claims without proof or qualification. With the furniture and bedding industry using an increasing amount of “green” materials – from recycled wood to soy-based polyols – it is essential that you understand how the finished products in your store’s inventory may now be marketed and advertised.

What are Green Guides?

First issued in 1992, the new Green Guides clarify and modify guidance on environmental claims, some of which have become increasingly more common since the last revisions such as carbon offsets, non-toxic claims, and claims that products are made from recyclable or renewable materials. While not enforceable by law, the FTC can take action under the FTC Act if a marketer makes an environmental claim inconsistent with these Green Guides.

Helping you to avoid over-stating the truth

In issuing these Green Guides, the FTC wants to help marketers avoid making sweeping, over-the-top claims that can’t be substantiated. For example, simply stating that a product is “eco-friendly” may be leaving too much up to consumers’ interpretation. The Guides further state that, “Marketers should not state or imply environmental benefits if the benefits are negligible” and clarify what information may be needed to substantiate a claim.

Say, for instance, that a manufacturer increases the recycled content of his product from two to three percent. He then states on his label: “contains 50% more recycled content than before”. While the claim is technically true, it likely gives the false impression that the manufacturer has significantly increased the use of recycled materials.

Some of the Green Guides that may apply to the furniture and bedding industries

• Recycled content: Do you carry reclaimed or recycled wood furniture? For products that contain used, reconditioned or re-manufactured components, the Green Guides state that, “Marketers should make recycled content claims only for materials that have been recovered or diverted from the waste stream during the manufacturing process or after consumer use.” If a product is only partially constructed of recycled content, “Marketers should qualify claims for products made partly from recycled material. For example, “Made from 30% recycled material”. The Green Guides further advise that, “Marketers whose products contain used, reconditioned or re-manufactured components should qualify their recycled content clearly and prominently to avoid deception about its components.”

• Recyclable content: Mattresses are recyclable, right? The recycling language used may depend on your location. A product should not be marketed as “recyclable” unless “it can be collected, separated or otherwise recovered from the waste stream through an established recycling program for reuse, or use in manufacturing or assembling another item.” When recycling facilities are available to at least 60 percent of consumers or communities where the item is sold, marketers can make unqualified recyclable claims. Otherwise, a marketer can state, “This product may not be recyclable in your area.” If recycling facilities for a product are available to only a few consumers, the FDA says a marketer should use stronger qualifying language: “This product is recyclable only in the few communities that have appropriate recycling programs.”

• Made with renewable materials: In its review process, the FTC discovered that consumers often misinterpreted this claim to mean that the product was recyclable, made with recycled content or biodegradable. To minimize the confusion, the Green Guides recommend that marketers “identify the material used clearly and prominently, and explain why it is renewable. For example, “Our flooring is made from 100% bamboo, which grows at the same rate, or faster, than we use it.” By identifying the material used and explaining why it is renewable, the marketer has minimized the risk of unintended claims. New BiOH technology allows our customers to create products with typical levels of renewable content at greater than 50 percent.

• Carbon offsets: It wasn’t all that long ago that the concept of a carbon footprint was foreign to most people. Now most everyone has a general idea of what it means. In its Green Guides, the FDA cautions that marketers should, “have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support carbon offset claims. They should use appropriate accounting methods to ensure they measure emission reductions properly and don’t sell them more than once.”

Preliminary life cycle analysis indicated that manufacturing BiOH polyols requires 60 percent less non-renewable energy and results in less global warming emissions than manufacturing the petroleum polyols we replace. Additionally, for every one million pounds of BiOH polyols used, more than 2200 barrels of crude oil are saved. Considering that the industry uses billions of pounds of petroleum polyols, BiOH polyols can have an impact on using less petroleum.

To view the complete Green Guides, information for business, and legal resources related to environmental marketing, go to business.ftc.gov. A summary of the changes is available at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2012/10/greenguidessummary.pdf.


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How to talk with customers about soy-based polyols

Posted by Kelsey Ness on October 8, 2012

Furniture store fabric swatches

Savvy sales people understand that the more they help their customers resolve a need, the higher their sales will climb. While you may not get a lot of people walking into your store and specifically asking for products made with soy-based BiOH® polyols, you probably do get a large percentage seeking better quality sleep and/or more environmentally responsible home furnishings. Once you’ve educated them about the benefits of BiOH® polyols, it will be easier to close the sale.

Here are some tips for talking with your customers about BiOH

Become a cool-sleep expert. Exhausted people stumbling into your showroom may blame everything but the temperature of their mattress while sleeping. Explain that:

o Many people overlook some of the most obvious components to a good night’s sleep simply because they don’t know about them.

o Temperature regulation is important to sleep quality.

o Mattresses, mattress foam toppers and pillows made with BiOH® visco polyol provide a cooler, more comfortable sleep. Studies show memory foams produced with this new product dissipate heat more quickly, cooling off 15-40 percent faster than memory foams using infused gel technology. Foams made with BiOH® polyols are also less sensitive to temperature overall, so they stay softer at cooler temperatures.

o Gel-infused mattresses are trending in part because they have a positive impact on sleep quality.

Give them tools for living a more responsible lifestyle. Surveys have found that 70 percent of shoppers would be interested in buying eco-friendly furnishings. The stumbling block? An estimated 55 percent say they are unaware that these products exist! People want to do their part for the planet, providing it’s not too difficult or expensive. So make it easier for them!

o Point out the various eco-friendly, responsible alternatives in your store.

o Explain that BiOH® polyols are made from a renewable product: soybean oil.

o Teach consumers how to read the Specialty Sleep Association’s new ‘green’ mattress labels, which help them identify what is green, natural and sustainable.

o Explain that manufacturers who use BiOH polyols are reducing America’s dependence on petroleum. For every one million pounds of BiOH polyols used, more than 2000 barrels of petroleum can be saved.

o Point out that by choosing products made with BiOH polyols, they are buying excellent products that leave smaller environmental footprints.

o Assume the sale. There is a growing interest in buying green. Plus, consumers are generally willing to pay a little more for green furnishings.

Selling mattresses and home furnishings made with soy-based BiOH® polyols can be as simple as educating your customers. Once they learn that products made with BiOH® offer them the possibility of consistently better rest, and are an eco-friendly, sustainable way for them to contribute to the health of our planet, they will feel good about making this choice.



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Las Vegas Summer Market recap: Gel is even more mainstream

Posted by admin on September 14, 2012

Las Vegas Market

Last month’s Las Vegas Summer Market was one of the strongest ever! Dozens of mattress and bedding manufacturers debuted new products and innovations. Earth-friendly and consumer-friendly was a theme woven throughout the event, from re-usable mattress shipping cartons to products designed to dramatically enhance the sleep experience. Mattresses that conform to body contours, and new variations on sleep products made with gel, continued to be among the hottest trends. Manufacturers are clearly building on the momentum that we saw earlier this year at High Point Market.

Notable highlights

We scoured reports from several industry publications to uncover which manufacturers and products had the greatest impact on attendees. We weren’t surprised to discover that several of our customer partners made big impressions. Among them were:
Comfort Solutions: Emphasized gel, latex and toppers in its expanded features and price points. Its Natural Response collection now has four models, each containing Gel Response latex. The Natural Response Luxury bed features a reversible/removable topper made with gel foam and latex layers. Its iMattress beds feature iFusion gel foam and Gel Response latex.
Sealy: Introduced a premium pillowtop mattress to its gel memory foam line, the Posturepedic Optimum mattress collection. Sealy also announced the addition of gel foam to its more affordable Sealy Comfort Series Memory foam collection. In addition, you’ll want to watch for new poured gel technology products by Comfort Revolution, Sealy’s specialty sleep partner, to be introduced early next year.
Serta: Unveiled a new Trump Home mattress collection, which features its proprietary iSeries gel memory technology. It also revealed two new iSeries constructions, one with three layers of gel foams (KoolComfort Memory Foam, Cool Action Gel Energy Foam and Cool Action Gel Memory Foam) and the other with two layers of gel foam.
Spring Air: Made its World Market Center showroom debut by showcasing its newly acquired Natura World and NexGel product lines.

Consumer demand for better sleep is resulting in skyrocketing interest in gel/memory foam products. Bedding manufacturers are turning to soy-based BiOH polyols because they are made from renewable resources, reduce the need for petroleum-based chemicals, and help create “cool sleep products” that easily fill the needs in today’s bedding marketplace.


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Fire retardant legislation: Will it spark changes in furniture/foam bedding products?

Posted by Kelsey Ness on August 14, 2012

gavel on stack of documents

There is renewed debate about the safety of fire retardant chemicals used in mattresses and foam furniture cushions. At issue: Ensuring that these products meet fire safety standards versus any potential health risks associated with the flame retardant chemicals used for them to meet those standards.

The long-term implications aren’t clear; changes are possible at state and national levels. The current national open flame mattress flammability standard, approved unanimously by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), has been in place since July 1, 2007. Its intention is to give people more time to escape from fires started by such things as matches, lighters and candles. Mattresses must currently meet both of these measures:

• The peak rate of heat release for the mattress set must not exceed 200 kilowatt at any time during the 30 minute test; and

• The total heat release must not exceed 15 megajoule for the first 10 minutes of the test.

According to the Sleep Products Safety Council, the CPSC researched the potential chronic health risks for a variety of available flame resistant materials that can be used to meet these current standards. Some of the materials have been used in other consumer products for decades including food packaging and eye drops. Details on the safety analysis can be found on the SPSC’s website.

Legislation currently under review

In California, there is an effort to modernize Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117). The goal of Assembly Bill 2197, authored by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), is to pass new standards that would increase fire safety without the use of toxic and untested chemicals. Proponents believe that the flame retardants used to meet the current TB 117 standards are a threat to public health, and that there are more effective ways of preventing fires that do not pose this level of health risk.

And last month, the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Inez Tenenbaum urged federal lawmakers to speed the removal of hazardous flame retardants from new upholstered furniture. Partially in response to a four-part series of articles that appeared last spring in the Chicago Tribune, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will conduct a broad investigation into the flame retardants used. There is also a call within the U.S. Senate to conduct a sweeping overhaul the nation’s chemical safety law, The Toxic Substances Control act, which could impact not only mattresses and upholstered furniture but also electronics, toys, household products and cosmetics.

The furniture industry responds

Earlier this year, Furniture Today brought the debate in perspective by explaining that much of the information now making headlines has been known for quite some time. In his column, writer Heath E. Combs remarked, “Furniture manufacturers and trade association officials, some of whom have been working on the FR (flame retardant) issue for decades, said much of what the Tribune reported was already widely known in the industry. Still, many welcome any new look at whether FR laws and regulations take the best approach and are effectively enforced.”

Combs’ article cites Cambridge of California owner Ben Nielsen, who is a board member of the California Furniture Manufacturers Association. He is quoted as saying, “The (Chicago Tribune) article itself, after many, many years, got all the facts on the table of who the players were,” he said. “We always thought that behind the scenes, there were different people involved – the chemical people, the tobacco people, fire marshals – it got all the facts on the table.” Nielsen added that he supports a national furniture flammability standard that would result in a fair playing field for all manufacturers. He also supports more aggressive efforts to alert consumers –including having hangtags on every piece of upholstery shipped – about the dangers of upholstery catching fire due to cigarettes, candles and matches.

This debate is far from over. We will continue to monitor the situation and report updates.


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BiOH supports ISPA mattress recycling guidelines

Posted by Kelsey Ness on July 16, 2012

old mattresses

Mattress recycling is a somewhat controversial topic. Nearly all of us know of operators who participate in the highly questionable, and potentially hazardous, practice of re-covering and re-selling mattresses to consumers for high-profit sales. BiOH stands with the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) as it seeks legislation to prevent this from happening.

The recycling issues
Some reports estimate that Americans dispose of some 20-40 million mattresses each year. Most end up in landfill, where they take up a significant amount of space and their chemical flame retardants pose potential contamination hazards. Some disreputable and deceptive companies are taking advantage of the situation by simply recovering old mattresses and selling them as new. It is, as one Furniture Today blogger noted, “a dirty little problem.”

When not properly sterilized, renovated mattresses have also been tied to hygienic problems include dust mites, bedbugs as well as forms of human contamination.

The answer lies in legislation
Most mattress components are recyclable. The used foam, for example, can be transformed into carpet underlay, and the cotton has many textile applications. However, as some ISPA spokespeople point out, collecting, dismantling and recycling discarded used mattresses can be a complicated process. Not only are mattresses bulky and difficult to transport, but the materials are often difficult to separate.
For a number of years, the ISPA has encouraged responsible recycling of used mattresses, and supported the development of legitimate recycling operations. The ISPA is currently leading the push for a federal mattress recycling program, rather than state-level solutions.

“(The) ISPA firmly believes that the best approach to efficient and legitimate mattress recycling lies in federal legislation. A federal recycling program would permit efficiencies and economies of scale that are not possible at a state or local level,” commented ISPA President Ryan Trainer. “It would apply consistent collection and processing practices across the country that would benefit all parties concerned by driving down recycling costs for both consumers and manufacturers while also increasing recycling rates.”

In May 2012, the ISPA announced that it supported the decision by Connecticut legislators not to enact a mandatory used mattress recycling law, agreeing that the bill would have imposed unreasonable costs and burdens on mattress manufacturers, retailers and consumers. Similarly, in June 2012, the ISPA opposed Rhode Island bills that it says would have “imposed unreasonable costs and logistical burdens on the industry.” The state’s legislature adjourned without voting on these bills.

BiOH agrees with the ISPA that national legislation must address the needs of consumers, retailers and manufacturers under one unified, consistent and efficient program. Trainer says, “The association will continue to work with state and local governments to address the mattress disposal challenges that municipalities face while continuing to advocate for a broad-ranging federal solution.”

Legislation proposed by the ISPA, called the Used Mattress Recycling Act, which would create a mattress recycling council comprised of manufacturers, retailers, consumers and government representatives charged with developing a robust recycling program; collect a small, visible fee for mattress recovery at the retail level to help fund legitimate mattress recycling operations as well as the program administration; combat illegitimate and dangerous mattress recycling operations; and operate with federal oversight from the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

We will monitor and report on news from the ISPA on this very important issue.

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Celebrating good news for the mattress industry!

Posted by Kelsey Ness on June 13, 2012


After reviewing the 2011 International Sleep Products Association (ISPA) Report, and looking at the more recent March 2012 numbers, we are very optimistic about the state of the U.S. mattress industry. We are particularly encouraged by the numbers related to specialty and non-innerspring mattresses, such as those made with BiOH® polyols. In addition to foam (latex, visco-elastics/memory foam and other foam cares), the non-innerspring category also includes air, hybrid-type flotation ensembles and electric adjustable ensembles.

The 2011 ISPA Reports: “Sales remain below pre-recession levels, and several important head winds still buffet the economy, but consumers are returning to mattress and furniture stores in growing numbers.”

Some figures that popped out at us from the Report:

• U.S. mattress producers shipped 34.9 million units in 2011, an increase of 0.2 percent over 2010; however the value of U.S. mattress shipments increased 7.7 percent in 2011.

• Geographically, the North Central region experienced the largest sales value increase (8.7 percent) as well as the most substantial unit gain (5 percent).

• In the fourth quarter of 2011, domestic mattress shipments were up 15.8 percent.

Our attention was drawn to the specialty mattress category, which appears to be carrying the industry’s recovery. The ISPA reports, “… the dollar value of non-innerspring mattresses increased substantially (29.6 percent) during 2011.” Market share for the non-innerspring segment also improved. The ISPA report says that it accounted for, “20.4 percent of total mattress sales value (compared to 25.2 percent in 2010) and 13.8 percent of units (compared to 11.2 percent in 2010).

How’s this year progressing?

The momentum continues, especially for non-innerspring mattresses. We jumped onto the ISPA’s website to check the numbers for the first quarter of 2012. According to the ISPA’s Bedding Barometer survey results, non-innerspring mattresses held their own against a decline in other segments. From January through March, non-innerspring mattresses experienced a 43.9 percent unit gain vs. a total unit gain of 10.1 percent for all mattress types and foundations; and a 49.4 percent increase in sales value vs. 19.2 percent increase in sales value for all mattress types and foundations.

This demonstrates that innovations in better sleep technology are attracting the attention of American consumers, and a good night’s rest is something that they value.



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What motivates “sustainable” consumers?

Posted by Kelsey Ness on May 16, 2012


Today, some marketers suggest that we classify consumers from light green (minimal commitment to sustainability and earth-friendly buying) to dark green (strong commitment). Whatever the shade, being green is more mainstream than ever. How is this trend affecting home furnishings?

Some of the most exciting findings come from the Sustainable Furnishings Council, which has released the top findings from its 2012 Green Home Furnishings Consumer Study. The fourth study of its kind, researchers surveyed 432 female homeowners ranging from ages 30-60 with household incomes more than $50,000 shows.

The survey, conducted by the Sustainable Furnishings Council with the support of furniture company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, aims to provide trend data on consumer awareness, attitudes and behaviors relating to environmental issues and the home furnishings industry. Among its discoveries:

  •  There is a growing interest in buying green. More than half of the consumers surveyed have purchased green products in a variety of categories. These consumers practice recycling at home and are concerned about a range of environmental issues.
  • Those who purchased home furnishings in the last year showed twice the interest in green products as those who have not purchased. People may be buying less but they are buying eco-friendly.
  • In general, consumers will pay a little more for a special feature that is important to them. 67 percent of respondents said that they would pay up to five percent more for green furnishings.

That last bullet point is perhaps one of the most important findings. Consumers will pay extra to buy a green product, especially if it does more than its traditional counterpart. Just as we’ll buy energy efficient brands because they’ll also save us money, when you’re talking with consumers about mattresses and other products with BiOH® polyols, spend ample time discussing the benefits to the consumer – such as better sleep – in addition to the benefits to the environment.

That two-for-one value could easily be the tipping point that results in more sales. Your customers will be excited about sleeping better at night. They’ll also feel good about themselves because they just bought something that helps sustain Mother Earth.

It stands to reason that they will also feel good about you, as a retailer, because you sell these earth-friendly, health-enhancing products and you were knowledgeable about their many layers of benefits.


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Industry innovation – a look into the future of bedding products and manufacturing

Posted by Kelsey Ness on May 1, 2012


Last month’s High Point Market gave us an opportunity to see and experience trends in the bedding industry. It’s clear that consumers are becoming more discriminating both in terms of the environmental impact of their bedding products, as well as in how those products may improve their ability to consistently get a good night’s sleep.

Three trends worth noting:

Gel is the buzz word! At High Point Market, there were mattresses and pillows marketed using such phrases as “gel-infused”, “cool gel ventilated”, “swell gel” and “gel comfort”. It’s all about helping consumers achieve cooler, more restful sleep. Cargill is on point with our new BiOH® polyol, which can replace 100 percent of the petroleum polyols in gel products today, reducing the dependency on oil and increasing the renewable content in finished foam products. The urethane gel made from this new BiOH® polyol can be used in mattresses, mattress toppers, pillows, upholstered furniture, carpet cushion, automotive seats & more.

Bedding accessories are still on the rise. Mattress protectors, toppers, and decorative pillows will remain popular, and remain excellent sources for add ons and impulse buys.

Organic/Eco-Friendly = growing demand. The focus on sustainability and the health of our planet continues to increase. Case in point was the debut of the Alexander Julian Couture line, a Made In America line featuring sustainably harvested hardwood frames. There were also numerous examples of natural décor and nature-inspired furniture on display. Watch for high profile designers including Kathy Ireland and Alexander Julian to participate in a consumer print campaign for green home furnishings.

Retailers: The future is where natural meets wired

When we saw that one major mattress manufacturer is actually debuting a mattress with a built-in iPad station, we wondered how adults ages 18-29 are changing our industry. Just in time for High Point Market, Furniture/Today released results of a survey conducted with Millennials: the generation born between 1981 and 2001. 100 percent of those responding said that they regularly shop for furniture at lifestyle furniture stores, such as Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel. The report offers tips for attracting more of these young adults into traditional furniture retail stores, such as offering WiFi so shoppers can access in-store specials; battery charging stations perhaps in a coffee bar setting; and using end caps and front-of-store bins to encourage impulse buys.


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