New ecodesign principles published by National Bed Federation

A new guide for ecodesign principles has been released by the National Bed Federation (NBF) to ensure the best possible design and sustainability outcomes for bed and mattress production in the UK.

The guide describes 10 key ecodesign principles, identifying products, services and practices that constitute good ecodesign for beds and mattresses, which companies can then interpret and build on.

Also included is a ‘red list’ of practices to be avoided, covering compliance requirements and recommendations for a sustainable approach to designing mattresses and beds, with the ultimate aim of encouraging the wider bed manufacturing industry to mitigate its environmental impact.

As it stands, mattresses are particularly difficult to recycle, with the materials they are made up of, such as metal springs, often being dangerous to dismantle. Owing to this, research from last year showed that mattresses represent 13 per cent of all waste dumped illegally since 2013.

However, figures published in August last year reveal that mattress recycling rates are improving, as they show a 55 per cent increase in mattresses having been recycled from 2015 to 2017.

With its easy-to-understand ecodesign principles, published specifically with the UK bed sector in mind, the NBF hopes to promote a greener approach to designing and manufacturing beds and mattresses.

This includes encouraging takeback services and the increased use of recycled and recyclable mattress fillings, such as polyester from recycled plastic bottles.

Jessica Alexander, Executive Director of NBF, said: “There is a large, often academic body of work out there all about ecodesign. What we have tried to do with our guide is to distil that into a framework that is directly and practically applicable to the bed sector.” 

The guide was prepared in collaboration with environmental consultant Oakdene Hollins. Managing Director of Oakdene Hollins, David Fitzsimons, said: “The pressure is on for every sector to prepare for the challenges in ecodesigning their products.

“The NBF is ahead of the game in producing this guide. Building on previous European technical research, it takes a uniquely British approach by framing how to deliver better ecodesigned mattresses through competition between bedmakers.”

Zero Waste Scotland, which recently published its own report on extended producer responsibility (EPR) for mattresses, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions caused by mattresses, welcomed the new ecodesign guidance.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “It’s great to see an industry body so actively supporting its members to embed circular economy principles at every stage.

“Rethinking how we design and look after mattresses and other products during their lifetime is an absolute must for Scotland and the wider UK to meet our net-zero commitments.

“Guidance like that produced by the NBF is invaluable in helping designers, producers and manufacturers make environmentally-responsible decisions that could also help futureproof their business.

“The circular economy is about making things last, and with less than one in 10 mattresses currently recycled there’s a huge opportunity to improve on that by addressing product design, material use and end-of-life treatments from a whole life cycle perspective.”

The Ecodesign Framework and Principles Guide can be accessed on the National Bed Federation website.