Mattress certifications tell an increasingly important story that consumers want to hear
Editor’s note: This article is intended as an overview of some of the most commonly sought voluntary certifications available for finished mattresses, component parts and sleep accessories. It is not intended as a definitive guide. Information in the story was provided by the organizations. An organization’s inclusion in this article does not imply endorsement by BedTimes or the International Sleep Products Association.
Today’s consumers are savvier than ever, and they expect a lot more from the products they buy. Not only do they want good quality and nice style, they also want to be certain the products they purchase — be they foods, clothing, beauty products or home goods — are safe and free of toxic chemicals that could harm them or their families.
That’s why certification programs have continued to grow in importance over the years. These initiatives, which conduct testing and inspection of various products to be sure they meet rigorous standards for safety and performance, give consumers confidence in the items they buy.
And they play an especially important role in the mattress industry. With sleep becoming more intertwined with the concept of wellness, consumers want beds that not only provide a comfortable night’s rest, but also improve their safety and well-being. Programs like CertiPUR-US, Greenguard and Oeko-Tex ensure the foam, textiles and other components of mattresses comply with safety and environmental standards.
While it may seem hard to keep up with all these standards, our list of some of the major programs that apply to sleep products can help. Read on for the basics.
Issuing organization: Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam Inc., a nonprofit organization
What the seal means: The CertiPUR-US certification provides assurance that the foam in bedding or upholstered furniture has been tested and certified by an independent laboratory to meet specific criteria for indoor emissions, content and physical performance, and demonstrates a commitment to environmental stewardship. For permission to use the logo and associate with the program, a foam must pass the program’s rigorous standards twice in the first year and annually thereafter. An aggressive random verification testing program ensures that a company’s foams stay in compliance.
Criteria to earn the seal: Certified foams meet program standards for content, emissions and durability, and are analyzed by independent, accredited testing laboratories. Certified foams are made without ozone depleters; PBDE, TDCPP or TCEP (“Tris”) flame retardants; mercury, lead and heavy metals; formaldehyde; and phthalates regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. They also have low levels of VOC emissions (less than 0.5 ppm) for indoor air quality.
To be added to a mailing list to receive important program updates expected this summer, contact [email protected].
For more information: Certipur.us
Global Organic Textile Standard
Issuing organization: GOTS was founded by four organizations: Organic Trade Association (based in the United States), Internationaler Verband der Naturtextilwirtschaft (Germany), The Soil Association (United Kingdom) and Japan Organic Cotton Association.
What the seal means: GOTS is the leading worldwide textile processing standard for organic fibers. The standard includes ecological and social criteria, backed by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. GOTS-certified products can include yarns, fabrics, clothes, home textiles, mattresses and more.
Criteria to earn the seal: GOTS certification includes on-site evaluations of the entire textile supply chain, including processors, manufacturers and traders, beginning with the first processor. GOTS evaluates the processing and manufacturing of textiles on the basis of both environmental and social criteria. This means assessing everything from the chemical inputs being used to the ethical treatment of workers. To become GOTS certified, it is mandatory to meet all of the criteria, which includes requirements for organic fiber production, organic fiber material composition, chemical inputs in all processing stages, separation and identification, additional fiber materials and accessories, environmental management, wastewater treatment, technical quality parameters/limit values and social criteria.
Benefits of participating: GOTS logos give products the credible assurance of organic origin of the product, including environmentally and socially responsible processing. The certification ensures the entire organic supply chain is covered, from harvesting to manufacturing and trading, delivering credible assurance to end consumers.
For more information: Global-Standard.org
Issuing organization: Underwriters Laboratories
What the seal means: Greenguard and Greenguard Gold certifications ensure that products are scientifically proven to meet rigorous, third-party chemical emissions standards, helping to reduce indoor air pollution and the risk of chemical exposure, while aiding in the creation of healthier indoor environments.
Criteria to earn the seal: Greenguard certification emissions limits were initially used as purchasing specifications for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Washington for furniture and commercial building products. In addition, Greenguard certification criteria have been the basis for the LEED credit for low-emitting furniture since 2002. The tests used in the certification process evaluate chemical emissions in indoor environments. Manufacturers also are required to have quality control systems in place for consistent emissions throughout production.
Benefits of participating: Products with Greenguard certification ensure consumers that those items will contribute to creating a healthier indoor environment for their home, office or institution, as well as reduce exposure to chemicals. Greenguard certification standards are among the most rigorous in the world.
For more information: UL.com/Resources/UL-Greenguard-Certification-Program
Oeko-Tex Standard 100
Issuing organization: International Oeko-Tex Association
What the seal means: The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label ensures that every component of a textile product has been tested for harmful substances and is safe for human use.
Criteria to earn the seal: All textile articles at every stage of processing — from threads to the finished fabric — are tested before carrying the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 label. There are four product classes with their own testing protocols. Mattresses fall into product class two, which includes apparel. Other textiles for home furnishings fall into product class four.
Benefits of participating: A number of independent Oeko-Tex institutes operate worldwide according to uniform and scientifically testable standards and keep an overview of different requirements internationally, making it easier for companies to be compliant on a global level. The standard is widely recognized by consumers as a credible reflection of the product’s safety.
For more information: Oeko-Tex.com
U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic Seal
Issuing organization: The organic seal program is overseen by the USDA National Organic Program.
What the seal means: For textiles, finished products that are certified organic and produced in full compliance with the USDA’s organic regulations may carry the organic seal. When specific fibers in the finished product are certified organic, the product label can indicate which fibers are organic, as well as the percentage of organic fibers.
Criteria to earn the seal: To receive the organic seal, products must be produced using agricultural practices that incorporate resource cycling, promote ecological balance, maintain and improve soil and water quality, minimize the use of synthetic materials, and conserve biodiversity. Products must be overseen by a USDA NOP-authorized certifying agent and produced without prohibited methods, such as genetic or ionic engineering.
Benefits of participating: The USDA Organic Seal ensures consumers that products have been properly vetted and meet the USDA’s standards for production.
For more information: AMS.USDA.gov/about-ams/programs-offices/national-organic-program
USDA Certified Biobased Product Label
Issuing organization: The U.S. Department of Agriculture BioPreferred Program
What the label means: The USDA Certified Biobased Product label is designed to provide useful information to consumers about the bio-based content of products, assuring that the product contains a USDA-verified amount of renewable biological ingredients.
Criteria to earn the label: Bio-based products offer an alternative to conventional petroleum-derived products by being derived from plants and other renewable agricultural, marine and forestry materials. To carry the label, products must meet the USDA’s minimum of bio-based content and undergo testing by an independent, third-party lab.
Benefits of participating: Biobased products are cost comparative to petroleum-based items, while providing less of an environmental impact.
For more information: Biopreferred.gov
Sleep Products Sustainability Program
Issuing organization: Mattress Recycling Council
What the seal means: The Sleep Products Sustainability Program, also called SP2, applies to California-based mattress manufacturing facilities rather than products. The program helps participants look at their facility to identify what activities have the greatest environmental impact and develop a plan to reduce those impacts, establish best practices and define metrics to track progress.
Criteria to earn the certification: Participants must comply with 11 requirements to be considered for SP2 certification. These requirements lay the foundation or enhance an environmental management system. “We provide training directly with a facility’s appointed SP2 team to go over the SP2 requirements and help them determine how the program will work best for that facility,” says Kate Caddy, sustainability manager for the International Sleep Products Association and the Mattress Recycling Council. “We provide a plethora of tools and resources that can help them evaluate their process and work towards certification. The program is focused on continuous improvement, not achieving a specific target.”
Benefits of participating: Caddy says the program equips manufacturers with the tools they need to implement sustainable practices throughout the facility, which can benefit the environment and their bottom line. “The goal of the program is to create a practical environmental management system,” Caddy says. “And the benefits of that are reduced waste, increased operational efficiencies, potentially some cost savings.” (Read more about Kate Caddy on page 13.)
Pleasant Mattress has seen the benefits of SP2 firsthand. Their case study can be found at MattressRecyclingCouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/SP2-Case-Study-Pleasant-Mattress-Posted.pdf.