Mother putting baby to sleep at the crib

Infant mattress safety is top of mind for both parents and those involved in the products industry.

But a lack of mandatory guidelines around infant mattresses – firmness, materials, and chemicals involved in production – has led to confusion for parents and suppliers looking for the safest options.

And beyond safety, there’s an increasing demand of parents seeking infant products which are also environmentally and ethically sound.

A firm solution

GECA has created a lifecycle ecolabel standard to remove doubt and confusion and make identifying environmentally and socially preferable products easier.

GECA has done the hard yards of researching and evaluating products and services to ensure that both parents and businesses can rest easy knowing they are reducing the potential risks to infants.

The new Infant Mattresses standard was recently launched by GECA to provide a certification for infant mattresses assuring the GECA certified products are safe, eco-friendly and uphold labour standards.

The non-profit organisation, which aims to create sustainable solutions and pathways for organisations, base their ecolabel standards on ISO 14024. They currently have standards for 27 different categories of products and services.

All standards are comprehensive and consider the environment, health, whether they are fit for purpose, and social impact criteria.

The Infant Mattresses standard is a response to calls by the industry for guidelines on the issue. GECA’s technical advisory group, standards committee, and internal team of experts based the new standard on industry expertise, reputable research papers and a lengthy public comment period of 60 days.

Michelle Thomas, GECA’s chief executive officer explains: “While the new standard retains much of our existing Furniture, Fittings, Foam & Mattresses standard, one of the biggest differences is that the new standard provides a path to reduce the risk of SIDs [sudden infant death syndrome] through mattress firmness.

“We’ve identified ways to reduce these risks. There has never been a better standard.”

The independent third-party assessment covers the full lifecycle, from extraction of raw materials to end of life, and provides companies with the ability to showcase their sustainability leadership with a recognised standard, reduce risk, and attract customers.

Thomas adds: “Assessment against the GECA standards isn’t easy, it’s not meant to be easy. We push the boundaries and really want those organisations to stand up and lead in sustainability and best practice.

“Best practice is no longer going to be the cherry on the top. Best practice is going to be business as usual. And getting on board now means less risk for your business moving forward.”

Hazardous materials and modern slavery

In addition to mattress firmness, Thomas emphasised the importance of assessing hazardous and banned chemicals such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which may be used during the manufacturing process.

Thomas says the list is so extensive, it was “an eye opener”.

“Hazardous materials are particularly important in this standard, being the vulnerable population of infants and their health. That’s why the list is particularly robust and extensive,” she says.

While some may end up in the final product, these chemicals can also harm the health of workers and leak into the waterways, causing damage to the environment.

“At GECA we believe that nothing is truly sustainable without looking at the treatment of workers, and upholding human labour rights.”

Designing for circularity

Waste can be generated at any stage from beginning to end of the lifecycle of the product: right through from the factory and manufacturing to end of life.

Waste may be invisible to the user – but that doesn’t mean it’s truly gone. It’s just gone somewhere else.

GECA’s new Infant Mattresses standard takes the guesswork out of circularity by requiring manufacturers to think about the end of life – at the beginning of life. That means design for disassembly, taking a circular approach to recycling and product stewardship.

“Our standard is very keen to support those circular solutions,” Thomas said.

“This includes criteria for replacement parts, design for disassembly and separability, recyclability of plastics, coatings and treatments, packaging requirements, and product stewardship.”

A GECA certified mattress has numerous benefits

Industry, households, and hospitals

The independent not-for-profit says that although the standard not only fills a gap in a niche market, but it will also have a great impact on households and children’s hospitals across Australia.

Find out more:

GECA certification is a voluntary assessment process that utilises third-party independent insurance providers to evaluate products and services against the criteria within their standards.

All standards are free and available to download, while certification costs a fee.

All claims are verified and standards are improved constantly based on global recommendations and legislative changes.

“When we talk about requirements, they’re always changing. Industries are always changing. So, we do need to make sure our standards are updated,” Thomas explains.

“We push the boundaries. We really want organisations to stand up and lead in sustainability and best practice and provide more sustainable solutions”.

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