September 30, 2014 – SACRAMENTO, CA –California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new furniture labeling law today requiring manufacturers to identify upholstered products that contain added flame retardant chemicals.
After weeks of negotiations with California officials, the American Home Furnishings Alliance succeeded in having the law amended to include a definition of “flame retardant chemical” to give manufacturers more clarity in complying with the measure.
Without a definition, AHFA maintained the bill was not enforceable and provided no meaningful guidance for California consumers.
California Senator Mark Leno introduced Senate Bill 1019 in March in an effort to provide consumers in his state with easily accessible information on whether upholstered furniture contains flame retardant chemicals or not.
The proposal followed the release of the state’s new flammability standard, Technical Bulletin 117-2013, which replaces an open flame test for upholstered furniture with a smolder test. Upholstery products can pass the new test without using flame retardant chemicals, which were added to upholstery foam in the 1970s in order to meet the previous open flame test in California. Although the new standard can be met without the use of flame retardant chemicals, the law does not prohibit their use.
Leno wants California shoppers to be able to distinguish furniture that contains added flame retardants from furniture that does not contain these chemicals. His bill requires manufacturers to modify the TB 117-2013 compliance label, which is currently required on all upholstered furniture offered for sale in California.
In the new section of the label, manufacturers must specify whether the product “contains added flame retardant chemicals” or “contains NO added flame retardant chemicals.” This is done by checking a box on the label next to the appropriate statement.
AHFA is developing a prototype label for its member companies to consult when ordering labels for merchandise shipping into California beginning January 1, 2015.
However, there is no effective date written into the Leno legislation. AHFA has requested clarification from state officials on the exact implementation timeline for the new labeling requirement.
“At this time, we are advising our members to plan for compliance beginning January 1, 2015 – concurrent with the implementation of TB 117-2013,” explains Bill Perdue, AHFA’s vice president of regulatory affairs.
AHFA worked with a coalition of furniture associations to draft several amendments that were successfully added to the Leno bill. In addition to the definition for FR chemical, these included:
• Removing a provision that would have required point-of-sale signs for any covered product shipped to California. The signs, like the label, would have had to include the “does contain/does not contain” statement.
• Removing a provision that would have allowed the state to charge manufacturers with perjury if they checked the “does not contain” box on the label and their product was later found to contain an FR chemical.
Other members of the home furnishings coalition that worked on the amendments included: the North American Home Furnishings Association, the Polyurethane Foam Association, the Upholstered Furniture Action Council and the California Furniture Manufacturers Association.
The American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C., represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, plus over 150 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide. AHFA is the industry’s representative on Capitol Hill and elsewhere throughout the United States on legislative and regulatory matters that impact the import and manufacture of residential furnishings.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 30, 2014
Jackie Hirschhaut, 336/881-1016