Bedding manufacturers, suppliers and retailers can learn from the experts how to set and achieve sustainability goals.
With the word “sustainability” starting to touch nearly every aspect of business today, it’s important that the bedding industry consider how to make its operations and products more sustainable.
Not only are consumers looking to buy more environmentally friendly products, but the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, individual states and the Federal Trade Commission are proposing and implementing new sustainability requirements.
That’s why the International Sleep Products Association is sponsoring its first Sustainability Conference, Nov. 16–17, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Uptown in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“We want everybody throughout the mattress industry value chain to have a common vocabulary when it comes to sustainability,” says Ryan Trainer, ISPA president. “What does carbon neutral mean? What does a carbon footprint mean? We want to make sure that the whole industry understands these concepts. That will foster more collaboration throughout the supply chain and put us all on an even footing.”
The conference will kick off with a cocktail reception Nov. 16, followed by a daylong slate of speakers, beginning at 8 a.m. Nov. 17. They include Mitchell Toomey, vice president of sustainability and responsible care for the American Chemistry Council; Leonard Gordon, partner at the law firm of Venable LLP; Brian Tomlinson, managing director of Environmental, Social and Governance at Ernst & Young LLP; and Andrew Dent, Ph.D., materials scientist with Material ConneXion. (Please see the following pages for their bios and a preview of their presentations.)
“We will have speakers talk about the basics of sustainability and why they’re important for mattress manufacturers,” Trainer says. “Mitch Toomey will talk about his involvement in helping establish the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals when he worked at the United Nations. We’ll hear about greenwashing and ongoing federal and state efforts to require companies to report their carbon emissions. Two industry panels will talk about how material suppliers and mattress manufacturers are putting sustainability concepts into practice and what the industry is doing on the recycling front.”
Who should attend? Many businesses in the bedding sector will benefit from attending the conference, ranging from those just beginning their eco-friendly journey to sophisticated companies who are already active in sustainability.
“Some companies have individuals whose specific responsibility is to improve the sustainability of their companies. Those tend to be technical people. They definitely should be there,” Trainer says. “Industry professionals responsible for new product design, raw materials purchasing, as well as marketing, will also find value in the conference.”
In addition to expert speakers, attendees will hear a panel of mattress component and material suppliers and finished product manufacturers discuss their sustainability journey.
The Mattress Recycling Council also will talk about its efforts to identify new and better markets for used mattress materials, encourage manufacturers to reduce their environmental impact and improve the recyclability of mattress materials.
Andrew Dent (who also spoke on sustainability topics earlier this year during ISPA EXPO 2022 in Orlando, Florida) will close the conference by recapping the day’s discussions and exploring how attendees can put that information to use in their own businesses.
ISPA’s goal is for attendees to leave the conference with a better understanding of the bedding industry’s responsibilities to improve its environmental performance and practical ideas for improving operations and products.
To register for the event, go to ISPASustainability.com.
Learning the A, B, Cs of the FTC’s Green Guides
Sustainability is increasingly a factor in consumer purchasing decisions, especially for larger ticket items. Understanding what you can and cannot say regarding sustainability is key for success.
That’s according to Leonard Gordon, a partner at Venable LLP, an AM Law 100 firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. Gordon will cover topics such as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides and “greenwashing” at the ISPA Sustainability Conference.
“Green/sustainability claims present both risks and opportunities for marketers,” says Gordon, a former FTC official. “You need to understand the key issues.”
For example, greenwashing is when a company markets something as green, eco-friendly or sustainable when it is not. This type of false advertising misleads consumers into thinking they are helping the environment by buying certain goods. Given the current fervor for all things green, it’s no surprise that the FTC and state agencies are paying attention to environmental claims more than ever, according to the Venable website.
Sometimes what companies think their green claims mean and what consumers really understand are two different things. The FTC’s Green Guides are designed to help marketers avoid making environmental claims that mislead consumers, according to FTC.gov.
First issued in 1992 and revised over the years, the Green Guides outline the general principles that apply to all environmental marketing claims. Their guidance covers how consumers are likely to interpret claims and how marketers can substantiate these claims, as well as how marketers can qualify their claims to avoid deceiving consumers.
Of course, all of this can be confusing. Thankfully, Gordon will break down these issues and simplify what can be a rather complicated topic. He will address three questions: What are the FTC’s Green Guides? Why do they matter to the bedding industry? What do folks need to know?
Chair of Venable’s Advertising and Marketing Group, Gordon is a skilled litigator who leverages his experience working for the FTC to help protect his clients’ interests and guide their business activity.
Gordon regularly represents companies and individuals in investigations and litigation with the FTC, state attorneys general, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He also represents clients in business-to-business and class action litigation involving both consumer protection and antitrust issues. Finally, Gordon counsels clients on antitrust, advertising and marketing compliance issues.
During his time with the FTC, most recently as the regional director for the Northeast Regional Office in New York, Gordon managed case selection and supervised attorneys, investigators and support personnel. He served as the liaison to the Bureau of Competition, Bureau of Consumer Protection, and other law enforcement and community groups.
Understanding the SEC’s Climate Risk Disclosure Rule
Regulators around the world are engaging on environmental, social and governance themes as never before, causing ESG and sustainability to move from voluntary to mandatory reporting, says Brian Tomlinson, managing director of ESG for Ernst & Young LLP.
“Understanding and reporting on climate risk is a focus of these regulatory efforts,” Tomlinson says. “Value chain analysis is becoming a key feature of ESG and sustainability, meaning that even companies whose shares aren’t publicly traded will need to respond to sustainability themes relevant to their industry.”
Tomlinson will give a comprehensive overview of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed Climate Risk Disclosure Rule and discuss its implications for both publicly traded and privately owned companies.
In March, the SEC proposed rule changes that would require publicly traded companies to include certain climate-related disclosures in their regulatory filings and periodic reports. These disclosures would include information about climate-related risks that are likely to have a material impact on their business; results of operations or financial condition; and certain climate-related financial statement metrics in a note to their audited financial statements, according to SEC.gov.
The required information about climate-related risks also would include disclosure of a company’s greenhouse gas emissions, which have become a commonly used metric to assess a registrant’s exposure to such risks, the SEC website states. Private companies that supply materials and products to publicly traded companies also will be required to provide data.
“Businesses of all shapes and sizes should review their sustainability practices and prepare to respond to regulatory initiatives, in addition to responding to changing consumer and investor preferences,” Tomlinson says.
As managing director of ESG for Ernst & Young, he advises clients on the implementation of ESG strategies and practices.
Tomlinson has also advised corporations at different stages of maturity on ESG practice, helping them navigate complex and evolving reporting environments and the shifting expectations of institutional investors, according to the EY website.
Widely published in leading journals and publications, including Harvard Business Review, the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, MIT Sloan Management Review and Institutional Investor, he has produced a large volume of original research to advance the awareness and adoption of ESG approaches.
Tomlinson is a regular speaker at leading industry forums, webinars, podcasts and sustainability courses, including the National Association of Corporate Directors, National Investor Relations Institute, Berkeley Sustainable Finance and ESG Investing course, NAEM, Corporate Secretary magazine, IR magazine and EY’s Better Finance podcast. He has also spoken at the SEC.
“ESG performance has rapidly become a critical value lever, contributing to both the financial and social returns of organizations,” Tomlinson said. “By adding ESG goals into corporate strategies, ESG outcomes have the capacity to accelerate innovation, generate long-term value creation and diminish negative social impacts. Working with companies to implement ESG initiatives with ambition and authenticity is how I and our teams are helping to build a better working world.”
Practicing Sustainability, One Step at a Time
Sustainability is not only achievable, it will benefit your brand.
That’s Andrew Dent’s philosophy on why sustainability is important and why it’s crucial to address the issue now — boosting your brand while saving the environment.
Dent, executive vice president of research for Material ConneXion, will explain how to put sustainability into practice and present real-world examples.
His clients have included companies from Whirlpool and Adidas to BMW and Procter & Gamble. (And if he seems familiar, he gave the keynote speech at the ISPA EXPO in March.)
“As we have seen with many industries, there has been a significant change in the way that materials are being sourced for products and that the products themselves are being manufactured,” Dent says. “Sustainability and circularity are becoming powerful drivers for the new generation of products.”
He says that companies should consider innovations that offer demonstrable improvement. “There are a lot of new things out there that could solve sustainable challenges,” Dent says.
“Though daunting — especially in an industry as material-focused as sleep — making impactful changes is possible and will reap benefits through greater consumer engagement,” he adds.
As executive vice president of research at Material ConneXion and chief material scientist at Material Bank, Dent is known for his integrated approach to problem-solving.
One of the world’s leading authorities on materials in design, he has helped clients from startups to Fortune 500 companies take their products and facilities to the next level through innovative material selection and a unique cross-industry perspective, according to the company website.
Material ConneXion is a leading material insights company, driving material innovation with a unique cross-industry approach. Their material libraries, advisory services and online platform help companies to reach their sustainability goals, source the most innovative materials, or find materials that enhance performance or aesthetics.
Co-author of the “Material Innovation” book series published by Thames & Hudson and a frequent speaker on sustainable material strategies at events such as TEDx Grand Rapids and TED NYC, Dent says he’s always ready to solve design problems with unexpected material solutions.
He has also written for many publications on the topic of material science, such as Financial Times, Fast Company and The Economist.
Modeling Your Sustainability Goals After the United Nations
Learn how to gain insight into how you can use the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to help set your own environmental objectives.
And there’s no better person to learn from than Mitchell Toomey, vice president of sustainability and responsible care for the American Chemistry Council.
Toomey spent more than 15 years with the United Nations and its Development Programme, where he helped champion the U.N.’s global social responsibility and sustainability movement.
“The Sustainable Development Goals is an agreement that was made in 2015 by all the member states of the U.N. — unanimously, every country committed to a common definition of sustainability,” Toomey said in an interview with Greentown Labs. “I think it was a watershed moment; it’s allowed for businesses and others to really accelerate work on sustainability.”
He also led U.N. engagement and expert dialogues for the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, launched the UNDP Innovation Facility and served as lead author for the UNDP Knowledge Management Strategy.
In September, Toomey transitioned from his post as director of sustainability at BASF Corp., the world’s largest chemical company, to join American Chemistry Council, which represents companies engaged in the multibillion-dollar chemistry business.
In his four years with BASF, Toomey led a team working across 12 businesses to embed sustainability in the company’s business strategies.
His responsibilities included leadership of long-term renewable power purchasing agreements, nonfossil feedstocks for circular economy value chains, and customer-centric portfolio evaluations and expansions based on emerging sustainability drivers. He also led the BASF Sustainability Champions Network and Leadership Sustainability Council.
As the head of both the American Chemistry Council’s sustainability department and Responsible Care program, Toomey is tasked with strengthening the industry’s role as a solutions provider across several key areas.
They include monitoring and improving air quality, conserving and protecting drinking water, increasing product and process safety, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding recycling, and creating a more diverse workforce.