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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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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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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Top five ideas for celebrating Earth Day

Posted by Kelsey Ness on April 16, 2012


April 22 will be the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day, a day credited with starting the modern environmental movement. Four decades later, consumers’ interest in products that are kind to Mother Nature has never been stronger. Not only are people more likely to buy eco-friendly goods, many are more inclined to spend their money with businesses that also support this way of life.

Here are five great ways for furniture retailers to take part in Earth Day 2012:

1. Draw attention to your earth-friendly inventory.

• Create Earth Day signs or tags to place on goods made from recycled, reclaimed, organic or sustainable materials, as well as any sourced from local suppliers.

• Ask each employee to pick his/her top three favorites from among the “green” items and sign their name to those tags. This gives those items a personalized staff endorsement.

• Offer your employees an extra incentive for selling those items which they have endorsed.

2. Reward customers for purchasing earth-friendly items.

• The value of the rewards can be scalable depending on the amount of the purchase. Some ideas include:

o Free fluorescent light bulbs

o A memory foam pillow made with BiOH® polyols

o A gift certificate to a local restaurant that features sustainable menu items

o A memory foam topper made with BiOH® polyols

3. Take part in community activities.

• Organize a team of employees to help clean a beach or neighborhood, or to plant trees. Wear tee shirts with your business name so that others will notice your involvement.

• Print fliers inviting your customers to join you at the event.

4. Plant a sapling or garden in honor of the employee who sells the most “green” products this month.

• Have a placard made with the employee’s name and the year, to remind employees and customers year round about your commitment to the cause.

5. Partner with a recycling group by serving as a collection site for items such as used cell phones or clothing.

• You will expand your marketing exposure because your business will be advertised by the recycling group as a drop-off point.

Earth Day is a great way to remind your community of your commitment to the environment, and to the health of your neighbors. However you decide to commemorate the day, we hope you also have fun doing it!


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Making sense of “green” mattress claims

Posted by Kelsey Ness on March 15, 2012


It is getting easier for consumers to learn exactly what’s inside a natural or “green” mattress. The Specialty Sleep Association (SSA), as part of its Environmental Program for Consumer Education, Retailer Training and Truth in “Green” Marketing, has created a mattress labeling program designed to help consumers make better informed mattress buying decisions.

The SSA is a non-profit advocacy and education association advocating and promoting the full spectrum of new technology bedding using both synthetic and green or sustainable solutions. Cargill Inc, producer of BiOH® polyols, is a full founding member of the SSA’s Environmental & Safety Program/Green Initiative Board of Governors.

Building the foundation for new industry standards

The SSA’s labeling program may one day result in more uniform labeling standards for green manufacturers, and more consistent, industry-wide definitions for what constitutes natural, green and sustainable.

The three-step seals and consumer discloser label tags appear on mattresses from manufacturers who join the program. They help consumers to understand the environmental and safety attributes of participating manufacturers’ products. Specifically, they make it easier for consumers to see at a glance:

• The minimum environmental and safety compliance levels that apply to that particular product.

• The material content by percentage for components in the mattress. Manufacturers certify what natural materials have been used and list those materials by weight. If the manufacturer claims any part of the mattress is organic, it has to substantiate that claim. Periodic product testing authorized by the SSA will help ensure compliance.

So far, products and manufacturers that have earned the SSA’s Environmental & Safety Program Seal of Approval are: Boyd Specialty Sleep, Natura World, Naturepedic and Spring Air International.

Program details

Manufacturers pay a fee to the SSA to use the label and seal. There are three different levels of seals that may be used.

To display the Level I seal, a manufacturer must:

• Disclose materials used in construction and percentages of natural/bio-based and/or pre-consumer recycled content if applicable

• Achieve a minimum of 20 percent of natural/biobased or pre-consumer recycled content in component categories of fabric and quilt

• Participate in an annual survey to identify carbon footprint issues and commit to continuous improvement

• Meet all federal safety flammability requirements

• Meet all safety requirements for children’s products if applicable

• Provide a warranty for the product

For the Level II seal, a manufacturer must meet all the requirements of the first threshold and in addition, the products must:

• Disclose materials used in construction and achieve a minimum of 20 percent natural/biobased, pre-consumer recycled content material, and/or steel in component categories of fabric and quilt and 10 percent for core

• Certify the top fabric (closest to consumer during sleep) through either Oeko-Tex Standard 100 or Global Organic Textile Standard

• Flexible polyurethane foam products must achieve CertiPUR-US certification

• Latex foam products must achieve Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification.

The Level III seal is the highest that can be achieved. To meet the Level III requirements, a manufacturer must comply with the previous two levels’ requirements and:

• Disclose materials used in construction and achieve a minimum of 70 percent of natural/biobased and/or pre-consumer recycled content material in component categories of fabric and quilt

• Disclose materials used in construction and achieve a minimum of 50 percent natural/biobased, pre-consumer recycled and/or steel for core

• Certify the final mattress through Oeko-Tex Standard 100 or Global Organic Textile Standard

• Test the mattress for VOCs emissions

The SSA is currently considering proposals for a Level IV of the program. In addition, the SSA has developed an Environmental Glossary Marketing Guide, available on its website, explaining many definitions and regulations governing the “green” industry.

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ISPA Expo attendees: Check out the Latexco mattress made with BiOH® polyols

Posted by Kelsey Ness on March 5, 2012


If you plan to attend the ISPA Expo this month, be sure to stop by booth #733, where Latexco will feature its new mattress made with BiOH® polyols. You’ll definitely want to pick up a handout to share with co-workers and customers because better/cooler sleep and environmental sustainability are two of the hottest trends in today’s mattress industry. We expect this mattress to create quite a buzz at the show.

Cargill has developed a new BiOH® polyol, with greater than 90 percent renewable content, that can be formulated into urethane gel products. It is made from renewable raw materials and can be incorporated into foam. This new BiOH® polyol 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.

In addition to the expo, we’re also running a full-page ad in the March, April and May editions of Bed Times, which features both of our cool new products: our next generation “cool” memory foam and our renewable urethane gel. (Turn to page 67 in this month’s issue.)

About ISPA Expo

ISPA Expo is the world’s only trade show devoted exclusively to the mattress industry. This year’s event takes place March 14-17 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition to previewing all of the newest products, you’ll have the opportunity to make valuable connections and learn profit-building sales techniques.

Members of the Cargill BiOH team will be there on opening day, and we look forward to meeting as many of you as possible!

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