Sustainable Fire Safety

Promoting effective and sustainable fire safety through intelligent product design and chemical transparency.

Fire Safety

Chemical flame retardants lost from furniture and everyday products are now ubiquitous in our environment, fueling the biodiversity crisis and impacting our health. Up to 30% of the weight of the foam in our furniture can be chemical flame retardants, but it doesn’t have to be. Through intelligent product design we can reduce the need for chemical flame retardants, and by improving chemical transparency, we can prevent pollution, protect wildlife while ensuring effective fire safety.

The use of chemical flame retardants is having a damaging effect on the environment and our health


Many of the chemicals currently used as flame retardants are hazardous to both wildlife and humans, contributing to the growing chemical pollution crisis.

Outdated and ineffective fire safety regulations mean furniture sold in the UK contains some of the highest levels of chemical flame retardants anywhere in the world.

The current lack of chemical transparency, combined with continual regulatory change as we learn more about chemical hazards, is creating a significant barrier to safe reuse and recycling of long-lived products such as mattresses.

A safe circular economy cannot be achieved due to current chemical flame retardant regulations


Remove the barriers to reducing chemical use by bringing UK fire safety regulations in line with other countries such as France, Germany, Sweden and the US.

Minimise the use of chemical flame retardants by encouraging products made ‘safe by design’, future-proofing against changing hazard information and creating products that can be recycled in a safe circular economy.

Introduce a dynamic information system to improve chemical transparency and traceability where flame retardants continue to be used, ensuring consumers, retailers, and recyclers can use and sell products safely.

Up to 18% of the weight of the mattress on your bed right now could be chemical flame retardants


UK Government – Update the UK Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 to reduce reliance on chemical flame retardants by removing ineffective testing requirements and supporting innovative product design. 

Manufacturers and designers – Commit to reducing chemical flame retardant use wherever possible, focusing instead on fire safety through intelligent product design and use of inherently flame-retardant materials. 

Manufacturers, retailers and recyclers – Support the need for chemical transparency along product supply chains by working with Fidra and other stakeholders towards the introduction of smart labelling. 

A long-term study looking at the amount of a particular set of flame retardants called PBDEs in the egg–shells of Bass Rock gannets. Photo by Phil Botha on Unsplash


Fidra sits on the British Standards Institute committee tasked with developing  updated UK furniture and furnishings flammability standards that support the new regulations. 

Fidra have collaborated with UK furniture industry and circular economy experts to produce a consensus on the shortcomings of current UK furniture fire safety practices and recommended solutions.  

Fidra are working closely with UK industry representatives to investigate practical challenges and identify viable solutions  for improved chemical traceability and product circularity. 

Fidra was part of an international research consortium, Tex.IT, which aimed to understand the practical application of smart labelling to increase chemical traceability through textile supply chains.