Why UK Fire Regulation Is Killing Ecodesign

Why UK Fire Regulation Is Killing Ecodesign


Our Government is encouraging us to go green and supports sustainable developments. But do they? Creating a sustainable product is not so simple and straightforward as you might think, and to my disappointment, I recently discovered that UK Fire Regulation is not making things easier. 

The UK Fire Regulation (1988) sets levels of fire resistance for domestic upholstered, furniture, furnishings and other products con

taining upholstery.

I have been trying to offer to the UK market a series of eco beanbags, manufactured in Sweden by Green Furniture and, as usual, I have been consulting my local Slough Borough Council and one of the approved certification companies to know more about the UK Fire Regulation and see how to get the product right for this market.

Coffee Fellow Beanbag is a wonderful product with a great story. It is made from eight recycled coffee bean sacks with original prints from coffee plantations around the world.

We have sent for testing one of our Coffee Fellow Beanbag to the authorised certification body. The inner bag was successfully tested and passed the cigarette and match test as required by the UK Fire Regulation. But an interesting discussion began with regards to the external cover.

The Coffee Fellow Beanbag cover is made of recycled jute coffee sacks. The Swedish designer collects the coffee sacks around his town and then stitched them together. Each beanbag is unique as the coffee sacks are different each time, depending on which coffee brand the Swedish are drinking most. And here relies the problem.  Each beanbag is a “new” product and we should test each single cover every time. Impossible economically and physically.

A similar problem raised with the Kyssen and Gecco beanbags: in this case the cover is made of hemp – one of the most ecologically fabric around. This fabric has been tested and it passed the cigarette but not the match test. So the product cannot be sold in UK. One solution would be to provide a coverage interliner. But the UK Fire Regulation allows this when the outside cover is composed of at least 75% of cotton, flax, viscose, modal, silk, wool. No hemp! So again we cannot sell our hemp beanbags to the UK market.

Another solution would be to treat chemically the cover with an anti-flame retardant but will you still consider this item an eco-friendly  product? We are still searching for a solution regarding the hemp beanbags as there are apparently some eco-friendly flame retardant treatments.

No doubts the UK Fire Regulation is very important but I think it’s probably time to review it and updated it.

Any comments, suggestions, feedback on the matter are welcome!