At the start of this year we attended the January Furniture Show at the NEC in Birmingham. As we weren’t exhibiting that day, we decided we would spend our time speaking with bed and mattress manufacturers about the BPR, along with our new free guide to BPR for Beds & Mattresses.
The BPR came into force in September 2013. Here we are more than 5 years later and manufacturers still don’t know about BPR. Yet it is the manufacturers who will be found responsible if they’re not BPR compliant.
How has this happened? Only one of the bed or mattress manufacturers we spoke to knew about BPR, and that’s because we already work with them.
In brief, this is what bed and mattress manufacturers need to know about BRP:
- If you’re selling a product that uses treated materials to produce a biocidal claim you have to be BPR compliant
- You obligations are to do more than simply use an approved biocide, you must correctly label a treated article and have additional information available upon request
- Your staff should all be educated on BPR to an appropriate degree
Why Are Manufacturers Not Paying Attention To The BPR?
Education & Enforcement
So how has this happened. Well firstly, there has not been as much action on the compliance front as you’d imagine for an EU regulation that came into effect 5 years ago. The wider team responsible for the BPR have been busy with approving and banning chemicals, but as their list reaches completion that is about to change.
In the UK, the HSE and local authorities are responsible for enforcing the BPR, and their approach to compliance is, in the first instance, to help distribute relevant information to relevant parties:
The HSE’s compliance strategy is taking two broad approaches:
1. Education, help and promotion. The HSE recognises the need for additional information on the BPR for manufacturers and brands.
Followed by more formal and serious actions to ensure compliance:
2. Proactive and reactive interventions, backed up by formal enforcement where necessary.
Enforcement tools include:
- Formal written advice
- Improvement notice
- Prohibition notice
And penalties include:
- Summary Conviction - Unlimited fine and/or up to three months imprisonment
- Conviction on Indictment - Unlimited fine and/or up to two years imprisonment
We recently requested information from HSE on the materials they’re providing to educate, help and promote BRP to manufacturers and retailers of Treated Articles. They did respond but only to point us to a page on their website. This is perhaps not enough to get the message out there.
So lack of action on the part of HSE is likely a contributing factor to the number of products on the market that are not BPR compliant.
We’ve also been in touch with the NBF to ask for their take on BRP and what steps they’re taking to communicate the BPR to their members. We were pleased to hear that over the last few years the NBF has provided free seminars and training on all aspects of the BPR, and also has resources online for members.
This year the NBF will also be updating their code of practice by checking in on members regarding their BPR compliance, anyone found non-compliant will be offered additional support. In worst case scenarios where efforts are not made to become compliant, membership may be revoked. So it’s great to see that real BPR support is being offered.
If you’re not already a member of the NBF we would suggest that you consider this, as they are a fantastic resource to help keep your business up to date with the ever evolving regulations.
Secondly, if compliance teams are getting the message about BPR, maybe that information is not being filtered down efficiency, and so it’s not understood by the entire team? Manufacturing can move fast, especially where emerging trends come into play, so is it that some manufacturers are rushing new products through without the compliance team’s nod?
And the biocide used in the product isn’t the only place that a product can fall down against the BPR. An understanding of the BPR is necessary for compliance, marketing and sales teams. Because a Treated Article can be non-compliant if the labelling is not correct, if the necessary information isn’t available, and if details can’t be provided to customers within 45 days.
This makes sense, because of all the information we’ve read about the BPR, it’s mostly technical and mostly focussed on the biocides themselves and not the newer, complex area that is Treated Articles, product marketing and selling. Biocide regulation is not a new concept, regulations for products containing biocides is - and the support that’s out there isn’t tailored to the more varied audience that need to digest it.
Another phrase we’re hearing a lot, and that demonstrates that BPR is not understood throughout many manufacturers’ wider teams, is ‘oh no, our fabric supplier does all of that, we don’t have anything to do with what’s used in the fabric’. Well actually, this is completely wrong.
Yes the fabric manufacturer does have a degree of responsibility. If they manufacture in the EU they are responsible for using an approved biocide for the end product’s purpose, and they’re responsible for providing you with this information on request.
However, you as the wholesaler or retailer of the finished bed/mattress are fully responsible for having ensured the biocides used in the materials you buy are approved and suitable for the claims you’re making. And you are also responsible for labelling and making the necessary information available to your customers.
Why would we change what we’re doing now when the EC regulations won’t apply to us soon? Firstly, this has been the law since 2013, so impending exit from the EU is not an excuse for non-compliance. Secondly, HSE have confirmed that they plan to take on all current EU regulations, including BPR exactly as it is laid out now.
Since it seems that bed and mattress manufacturers are either not receiving the necessary information, not understanding the necessary information, or are not acting on this information (or a combination of these), the industry wide-open to BPR trouble.
How Can Manufacturers Access Relevant Information?
One of our personal criticisms of the ECHA and HSE is that the information published appears to be written for technical teams. And with the scope of the BPR being so wide, there really should be guidance for retailers, wholesalers, product owners, marketers and leadership teams too. Not to mention, guidance for the public! - what use is it carefully explaining the biocides used on a label when it’s only going to scare or confuse a customer?
This is where we can help. We’ve written a plain English guide to the BPR Treated Articles - it’s still pretty comprehensive but we’ve written it with everyone in-mind. You can access our Guide To BPR Treated Articles here.
And with the bed and mattress industry in-mind in particular, we’ve written a smaller supplementary guide which is a quicker read but still gives you a really good basic knowledge of the BPR. Download that for free here.
In both guides we’ve included the contact details of our expert BPR legal regulatory colleagues, as well as our own details.
Our team of technical experts are well versed in the BPR and can advise appropriate solutions for any and all types of Treated Article. We’re offering a free phone consultation to any bed or mattress manufacturers looking for help, book yours by completing our contact form.