1 November 2013

Flooring Group Launches New Disclosure Standard

The PVC industry has been heavily targeted in the past for the environmental and human health impacts associated with its manufacture, use and disposal.  Many industries however benefit from the cost-effectiveness, versatility and light-weight nature of this plastic.


Aligning with KLH’s approach to sustainability, which promotes transparency and evaluation against a broad life-cycle basis to select appropriate materials for the task at hand, the PVC industry have been challenging themselves to address political and social pressures.


First we had the Solvin PVC Awards 2013, celebrating innovation in PVC technology, design and recycling.  The winners, announced in late October in Dusseldorf, highlighted how much time, effort and money was being spent by the industry on developing game-changing innovation.  Kirsten Henson  as one of the jury members for Solvin PVC Awards 2013, contributed by evaluating all projects from her specific viewpoint. The 26th issue of Solvin’s Wave magazine highlights PVC market trends and also features Kirsten Henson’s vision of the PVC industry.


Now the Resilient Floor Covering Institute, which represents over 95% of resilient flooring manufacturers in North America, including cork, vinyl, linoleum, and rubber, have launched a new Product Transparency Declaration (PTD).  The PTD builds takes the information provided in Environmental Product Declarations and Health Product Declarations to enable specifiers to understand if the ingredients used in a finish product are in a final form or high enough concentration to actually be harmful to the health of a building occupant.


This PTD is promoted as easier for manufacturers to navigate and for architects and contractors to understand.  In the new PTD the manufacturers are required to list the contents of the finished product as opposed to listing the ingredients used to make the product.  This will ensure that the information regarding the catalysts and other by-products of chemical reactions that are dissipated during the manufacturing process are also disclosed and not just the pure raw materials.  This will create more transparency about the final product delivered on site.


Another interesting approach the PTD has taken is to simplify the declaration process.  According to William Freeman, technical consultant to Resilient Floor Covering Institute, the current Health Product Declaration is not easy to fill out.  This has resulted in a range of consultants charging thousands of dollars to manufacturers to fill out the Health Product Declaration, money that could potentially be more usefully spend on research and reformulation.


The PTD has a more straight forward approach to declaring the product contents.  The PTD’s are expected to be published voluntarily by product manufacturers but will be verified with the signature of a responsible company official.

It remains to be seen how the industry respond to this new voluntary approach, however improved simplicity and transparency which enables times and money to be focused on research to exclude the most harmful chemicals rather than paperwork must be applauded.

Although this is not the first time a product manufacturer has created an alternative to the existing environmental standards, it is exciting to see industry driving change from within rather than wait for the legislation.

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