The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) is introducing Eco3Home, a furniture labeling program designed to help manufacturers communicate a product’s safety, health and environmental features to consumers.

Plans call for Eco3Home to be anchored by a consumer website, where shoppers can research the attributes of a particular piece of furniture in detail, review the environmental record of the manufacturer and learn what the industry is doing to safeguard consumer health and safety plus improve environmental stewardship. The website is scheduled to debut in mid-October.

Kincaid Furniture is piloting the program at the Fall High Point Market, Oct. 16-21, with its new “Homecoming” collection. Kincaid management, sales representatives and dealers will be the first to view the consumer-facing marketing materials and will have the opportunity to provide feedback on those materials as part of the pilot effort. AHFA plans to begin registering other companies into the program in January.

“AHFA invested in research to determine what consumers expect from ‘eco-friendly’ furniture,” said AHFA CEO Andy Counts. “We discovered that consumers tend to focus on environmental attributes that impact their personal health and safety … or their family’s health and safety. So, for example, having little or no impact on indoor air quality and containing no harmful chemicals were identified more frequently as environmental attributes of furniture than, say, sustainably harvested wood.”

"(T)he name ‘Eco3Home’ really emerged from the realization that, in the consumer’s mind, safety, health and environment are closely linked,” Counts added.

Labeling Criteria
* Safety: Eco3Home products meet or exceed federal safety standards, as well as industry-adopted voluntary standards. For case goods manufacturers, this means an Eco3Home product must meet voluntary ASTM standards, like those for tip over, as well as Consumer Product Safety Commission standards, like those for bunk bed construction. For upholstery manufacturers, an Eco3Home product must meet the voluntary UFAC fire safety standard until superseded by a federal standard.

* Health: Eco3Home products meet or exceed federal standards regulating the emission of unhealthy chemicals, such as formaldehyde, as well as the presence of unhealthy substances, such as lead. Further, Eco3Home products must use only paints, stains and finishes with low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and only fabrics and foams with no PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers, key ingredients in some flame retardant chemicals).

* Environment: All Eco3Home products are made by companies that are engaged in ongoing efforts to conserve water and energy, reduce waste and increase recycling. They have taken specific measures to “green” their supply chain and are using raw materials and construction techniques designed to have a minimal impact on the environment.

Companies seeking the Eco3Home product registration must complete AHFA’s EFEC environmental management program and its Sustainable by Design program, which extends sustainable business practices to global operations, including sourcing of raw materials and supply chain management.

Eco3Home takes the environmental requirement one step further to include product design and development. Companies must conduct an environmental inventory that calculates an individual product’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, energy consumption, waste-to-landfill and air emissions.

In addition, an individual product content inventory will list all major product components and their environmental attributes. This will include wood from certified sustainable sources, components from recycled/repurposed sources, and components from natural, bio-based or certified organic sources. Where applicable, third-party certifications will be required for verification.

The Eco3Home program will be communicated via hangtags, in-store brochures and other point-of-sale signage. AHFA envisions taht the Eco3Home website will be the "backbone" of the program "where consumers will find a rich storehouse of data."

“If she chooses, a consumer will be able to research a manufacturer’s documentation of each step taken to meet the three program promises,” Counts said. “In addition, the Eco3Home website will be an easy one-stop source for information on any ongoing research or regulatory efforts pertaining to health, safety or environmental issues related to residential furnishings.”

Read the American Home Furnishings Alliance's press release.

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