Organic Mattress Retailing Series – Part 3: Organic Certification Programs
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The previous two installments in this organic mattress series (www.furninfo.com/series/Naturepedic/66), explained the upward trajectory of consumer interest in buying healthier products and the concurrent growth of organic mattress sales. Like most successful grocery stores that cater to consumer needs by carrying a variety of food choices including organic, mattress retailers can increase sales by allocating floor space to organic bedding. The reasoning is simple. More options attract more customers.
What Does a Mattress Need to Be Officially Organic? According to the USDA National Organic Program, an organic mattress is certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is updating its “Green Guides” and will, probably before the end of 2023, also focus on GOTS.
What is the GOTS standard? It is a voluntary certification program that categorizes each mattress component into one of two categories.
- The main component is fibers. Depending on which GOTS standard for fibers a mattress is certified to, it can be at least 95% or at least 70% organic fibers. Organic fibers generally include organic cotton fabrics, organic cotton fill, and organic wool.
- The second component category is known as “Accessories.” It includes non-organic mattress components that comply with GOTS rules. These are mostly structural and functional components. Included in this group are approved latex, steel coils, and other items deemed to be non-toxic.
Who Certifies What’s Organic? To get a product certified organic, manufacturers must engage and work with a GOTS-approved certifier to ensure material and component compliance. This certifier inspects the mattress factory and reviews the various GOTS transaction certificates provided by suppliers to verify the chain of custody. For example, they might compare how much of a certified material arrived at a mattress factory with manifests that list how much a materials supplier sent to them to ensure that no cheating occurred.
What If a Retailer Sells Non-Certified “Organic” Mattresses? Selling non-GOTS- certified “organic” mattresses is risky. It can lead to regulatory complications, consumer complaints and class-action lawsuits. Product claims need to be defined and accurate.
A claim that a product is organic may be challenged if there is no accompanying standard to which the product is certified. It is, therefore, in the best interest of retailers to only sell products whose claims are verifiable.
Are There Other Relevant Certification Programs? Yes, and we’ll cover them in the next segment. They can be very helpful, and some even work in conjunction with the GOTS certification program. The primary ones include the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Organic Content Standard (OCS – Textile Exchange), MADE SAFE, and GREENGUARD (Gold).
About Barry A. Cik: Barry A. Cik is a Board Certified Environmental Engineer and founder and technical director of Naturepedic Organic Mattresses & Bedding. Since 2003, Naturepedic has been on a mission to protect the lives of families through safer, healthier organic-based products that have a positive impact on the environment. A brand with purpose, transparency, and ethical practices, Naturepedic is the recipient of many certifications and is highly respected by numerous health and environmental organizations (https://www.naturepedic.com/certifications) and is an EPA Green Power Partner. Since its inception, Naturepedic has been a consistent and generous advocate and supporter of NGOs and nonprofits advocating for the “Right to Know” about what is in the products that people bring into their homes.
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