Sustainable Fire Safety – Moving towards a solution

The unnecessary use of harmful chemical flame retardants in UK household products is harming public health, undermining the safety of the circular economy, fueling the biodiversity crisis, and failing to protect the UK public from domestic fire risks. Evidence from Fidra’s mattress case study shows that the UK’s reliance on chemical flame retardants should be a thing of the past. 

Ways Forward

Amendments to UK Furniture and Furnishing Fire Safety Regulations

In a joint statement, 15 leading industry representatives supported recommendations to amend the current UK Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations (FFRs) to facilitate a reduction in chemical flame retardant (CFR) use and support innovative product design, concluding that “use of harmful chemicals, including CFRs, should be avoided wherever possible”.  The UK FFRs are currently being reviewed under a government consultation, offering a unique opportunity to introduce meaningful and pragmatic solutions without reliance on harmful chemicals.

The statement echoes growing public demand for a cleaner, pollution-free environment and stronger commitments on sustainability. Whilst the expert opinions shared in the consensus statement are targeted towards furniture fire safety, they also offer valuable solutions to address wider issues of chemical pollution and product circularity. 

Improved Chemical Transparency and Traceability

Where chemical flame retardants are still used, improved chemical transparency is essential to ensure safe disposal, reuse and recycling of products. There are numerous ways in which this could be achieved, such as: 

  • Improved chemical data provided on static labels
  • Introduction of smart labelling or product passports
  • Introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes that incentivise improved data sharing along supply chains

These positive, workable solutions could allow manufacturers, retailers, and consumers to make more informed decisions on the products they make, sell and purchase, as well as supporting a safe and successful circular economy.

Introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

A primary objective of EPR would be to increase recycling through improved eco designs. This could include incentives to reduce or eliminate use of chemicals of concern, and where they are still used, ensure full transparency of chemical content along supply chains. This would support the safety and long-term viability of mattress recycling.

Figure 1. Adapted aim of an EPR scheme for mattresses in the UK

 Our Asks

Fidra asks that the UK Government:

  • Update the UK Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 to enforce reductions in the use of chemical flame retardants and remove ineffective testing requirements. Current flammability testing regulations do not confer with modern-day fire safety needs and promote an unnecessary chemical burden on UK public and environmental health.
  • Ensure the revised regulations promote durable and sustainable fire safety through innovation, intelligent product design and use of inherently flame-retardant materials.
  • Where chemical flame retardants are still used, ensure revised regulations enforce product labelling to ensure chemical transparency and traceability along supply chains.


Fidra asks that mattress retailers, manufacturers, assemblers, recyclers and waste facilitators:

  • Commit to reducing chemical flame retardant use wherever possible.
  • Support the need for chemical transparency along supply chains by working with Fidra and other stakeholders towards the introduction of smart labelling and joining our Circularity Statement.

We’re engaging with stakeholders along the mattress supply chain to assess current challenges and pragmatic solutions. To get involved or to join our Circularity Statement, please get in touch via


If you’re a concerned consumer, help show demand for chemical flame-retardant free products by writing to retailers and your local MP. You can also download our Frequently Asked Questions to help address any concerns here.

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