Loudon, Tennessee - In a 20-page white paper, the US Polyurethane Foam Association offers an overview of production issues in the US flexible polyurethane foam industry and of solid waste management and recycling of post-consumer foam products that may contain flame retardants.
The white paper, developed in response to an invitation from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), covers what the PFA says is the US foam industry's "excellent record of stewardship" and the value of preserving a market for post-consumer scrap foam, which can be processed in accordance with environmental guidelines.
"This was a collaborative effort between PFA and a number of other groups," explained Bob Luedeka, PFA executive director, in the PFA's announcement. "There is much misinformation published about flame retardants and flexible polyurethane foam. We hope this document provides clarity and support for science-based regulatory decisions related to foam characteristics, handling, recycling and disposal."
Other organisations that participated in the review were the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry, the Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam, the Carpet Cushion Council, Europur, the International Sleep Products Association, the American Home Furnishings Alliance and the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association International.
UNIDO assists members of the Stockholm Convention, an international treaty alliance of 127 countries aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the threats posed by persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The Convention goals are to restrict and ultimately eliminate the production, use and release of these pollutants and also to establish regulation of their international trade and disposal upon becoming wastes.
Parties to the convention must develop National Implementation Plans (NIPs) for meeting the obligations of the Convention. The PFA white paper will serve as a resource for UNIDO in the development of a Guidance Document on Best Available Techniques (BAT) and Best Environmental Practice (BEP) for the management of PBDE-containing waste materials to be presented to the Convention.
According to Luedeka, although the US is not a signatory and hence is not bound by the Stockholm Convention, the result of these efforts may benefit the US foam industry and end-use businesses in international trade.
The white paper, 'Flexible Polyurethane Foam Waste Management and Recycling' can be downloaded from the Issues section at www.pfa.org