Wallcoverings and the Environment - Our German Suppliers deliver
Posted on October 04, 2010
The Environment deserves our German suppliers
The wallcovering industry takes a very serious perspective on the environmental impact of its products, has worked hard over the years to overcome the challenges it presents. Our German suppliers conform to the RAL and now the new European CE standards that determine the goods we buy are “safe” from an environmental perspective.
In Germany wallpaper manufacturers instituted voluntary measures to protect the general public from possible wallpaper related health hazards. For example, in 1991 Verband der Deutschen Tapetenindustrie e.V., of which all German wallpaper manufacturers and various industry suppliers are members, founded the organization Gütegemeinschaft Tapete e.V., and developed the RAL-GZ-479 eco-label in collaboration with the German quality seal organization RAL Deutsches Institut für Gütesicherung und Kennzeichnung e.V. (RAL Deutsches Institut für Gütesicherung und Kennzeichnung 2006).
Our manufacturers have been governed for some time by the RAL standard. Wallpapers that bear this eco-label meet European standards, and their manufacturers guarantee that these products are safe (Deutsches Tapeten-Institut). However, unlike the Blue Angel eco-label, the RAL-GZ-479 eco-label does not take account of ecological sustainability criteria. The Blue Angel eco-label has yet to be granted to any wallpaper (as at November 2008).
Wallpapers that bear the RAL-GZ-479 eco-label can in general be regarded as relatively safe both during and after hanging. Non-controlled imports from countries that lack eco-labels comparable to those used in Germany may give rise to harmful emissions in wallpapers.
Wallpapers with the RAL quality mark conform to the European standards stipulated in EN233, EN234 and EN259. In addition wallpapers with the RAL quality mark fulfill the following requirements:
1. No provable vinyl chloride.
2. Formaldehyde is far below the legally accepted level.
3. No pigments containing heavy metal.
4. No lead or cadmium as stabilisers in structured wallpapers.
5. No Chloroflourocarbons (CFC’s).
6. No chlorinated solvents or solvents containing aromatics substances.
7. No easily volatile softeners (VOC).
These requirements are constantly being updated by neutral bodies using the most up-to-date analytical methods. Only products which meets these high demands are entitled to bear the RAL quality mark.
The new CE standard was published in Dec 2009 and has already been issued to our German manufacturers. This standard was prepared by the CEN/TC 99 Wallcoverings Technical Committee under a mandate given to CEN by the European Commission and supports the essential requirements of the Construction Products Directive. It was published in the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) on 18 December 2009.
The CE standard arose from a common desire for some kind of assurance that the goods we buy are “safe”, not only for ourselves but for the environment as a whole. IGI [International Wallcoverings Manufacturers Association] is determined that rolls of wallcoverings should be governed by a system of control that will ensure they do not cause any problems for the consumer or the world at large. IGI has therefore established the ground rules for a quality assurance system that is applicable worldwide. The European standard details a number of tests that wall coverings must now undergo in order to be compliant including:
- The products reaction to fire performance
- A determination of the release of dangerous substances i.e. formaldehyde, heavy metals and vinyl chloride.
- The products sound absorption performance
- The products thermal resistance performance