Specialty Sleep Association Expands Disclosure Label Program

Following a year of working sessions, the Specialty Sleep Association is now offering a revised and upgraded SSA Environmental & Safety Program® for mattresses with “green claims.”

“Updates have been made to the SSA Environmental & Safety Program® for those manufacturers wishing to make “green claims” substantiated by testing and documentation, as well as through use of established and recognized certifications, standards and government regulations,” stated Dale Read, President of the SSA. “New this year is the addition of a Level IV Seal of Approval to provide further substantiation to consumers who are seeking finished mattresses that are fully certified as organic by the third-parties recognized by the USDA.”

SSA’s Seal of Approval now applies to four levels of claims typically made in the marketing of mattresses from use of bio-based materials and components to a fully certified organic mattress. To earn the Level IV distinction, mattress must achieve stringent benchmarks including 95% certified organic and bio-based materials in fabric, quilt and core (unless steel is used) and achieve third-party certification of the finished mattress in addition to testing for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Other updates to the SSA’s program include the addition of an air and water option for Levels I and II and the revised testing and certification requirements in Levels II and III. The full program can be viewed at www.sleepinformation.org/environmental.

Last July the Federal Trade Commission took action against three bedding manufacturers barring these manufacturers from advertising mattresses as free from VOCs without scientific evidence to back up their claims. In addition to challenging the companies’ VOC-free claims, the FTC charged that two of the companies made unsupported claims that their mattresses were chemical-free and lacked odor. The FTC also challenged one company’s claim that its mattresses are made from 100 percent natural materials, and another company’s claim that its mattresses were certified by an organic mattress organization.“Updates to the SSA’s program come at exactly the right time,” stated Vicki Worden, President of Worden Associates, Inc. and sustainability consultant to the SSA. “Last July the FTC cracked down on unsubstantiated claims by several mattress companies. The FTC has caught up with our industry, and manufacturers can no longer make unsubstantiated “natural” or “organic” claims,” stated Worden.

Read indicated that the purpose of the SSA’s program is “to walk manufacturers through the process of substantiating each of their “green” claims. It is designed to support truth in marketing to the benefit of both the consumer and the manufacturer.”

Each level requires the creation of a Consumer Disclosure Label to be transmitted to the consumer along with the SSA’s Level I through IV Seal of Approval. Participating manufacturers, including Boyd Specialty Sleep, Innomax, Naturepedic, Paramount, and Spring Air, must agree to licensing requirements and provide full substantiation for all environmental claims. The substantiations cover claims ranging from percentages of bio-based content and certifications of flexible polyurethane foam, latex, gels, and textiles as well as claims about certified organic materials used in the mattress. Manufacturers must also declare on the Consumer Disclosure Label the type and location of fire barrier in each model that earns the SSA Environmental and Safety Program Seal of Approval.

For more information, visit www.sleepinformation.org or www.BEDFAX.org.