ICS Magazine

CRI responds to EPA inaccuracies; prompts information removal

March 27, 2002
Responding to a December 2001 EPA guide, "Greening Your Purchase of Carpet," The Carpet and Rug Institute prompted the federal agency to remove portions of it from its Web site.

DALTON, Ga.--Responding to a December 2001 EPA guide, "Greening Your Purchase of Carpet," The Carpet and Rug Institute (www.carpet-rug.com) prompted the federal agency to remove portions of it from its Web site and into a stronger relationship with the carpet cleaning industry.

Frank Hurd, vice president and COO of the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), told ICS Cleaning Specialist that when the EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Guide, "Greening Your Purchase of Carpet," (www.epa.gov/oppt/epp/pfs.htm#carpet) was reviewed by CRI, "We found a whole series of errors, not only in fact but in tone."

According to Hurd, the first paragraph of a section called, "Why Green Your Carpet? Environmental and Health Concerns" referred to "toxic chemical emissions from [carpet] manufacturing and disposal operations."

CRI president Werner Braun wrote the response to the EPA guide.

"To imply that emissions are "toxic" does a grave injustice to the carpet industry," Braun wrote to EPA. "CRI has consistently demonstrated its concern about emissions through its Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) "Green Label" testing program. The carpet industry has lowered emissions from carpet, cushion and adhesives to the point where they are toxicologically insignificant. CRI member companies exceed environmental regulations set forth by local, state and federal governments. In addition, carpet manufacturers' facilities are NOT considered major (by EPA definition) sources of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs)."

According to Hurd, much of the misinformation passed on by EPA dates from a decade ago and longer. For instance, he said that references to VOC emissions included in the EPA guide "are from 20 odd years ago when formaldehyde was used in the manufacturer of carpet. That's no longer true, but people still believe that."

Braun further writes, "While the carpet industry applauds EPA's effort to help consumers make informed, environmentally sound decisions in their purchase of carpet, CRI objects to the process wherein EPA generated a public document about carpet without consulting with the carpet industry. The result is a flawed publication full of inaccuracies."

"In publishing the current version of "Greening Your Purchase of Carpet," EPA has violated its own Guiding Principle 5 about Environmental Performance Information: "Comprehensive, accurate, and meaningful information about the environmental performance of products or services is necessary in order to determine environmental preferability."

Braun further asked in his letter to EPA, "At what point did EPA approach the carpet industry to discuss the environmental performance of our products? CRI is disappointed that EPA did not develop this EPA guidance in an open and transparent process that involves affected stakeholders."

"The dioxin portion of "Greening Your Purchase of Carpet" demonstrates inconsistency across EPA publications," according to Braun's letter, "CRI requests that the agency look at its own documents for further clarification, such as: "Dioxin: Summary of the Dioxin Reassessment Science" (June 2000), and the Federal Interagency Task Force publication, "Questions and Answers about Dioxins - July 2000".

"Indeed, EPA fails to recognize the environmental advantages of vinyl-backed carpet. PVC-backed carpet tiles are 100 percent recyclable, thus reducing its environmental footprint, not enlarging it as "Greening Your Purchase of Carpet" would have the reader believe," Braun's letter continues. "PVC-backed carpet also meets all the requirements of the CRI Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) "Green Label" testing program."

CRI's Hurd pointed out that as a result of Braun's letter to EPA, visitors to the EPA Web site can no longer access those portions of the EPA EPP Guide, "Greening Your Purchase of Carpet."

Additionally, "We got a good response from them," he added. "they want to talk with us" to correct the errors in fact and in tone.

The Dalton, Ga.-based Carpet and Rug Institute is the national trade association representing the carpet and rug industry. Its membership consists of manufacturers representing 94 percent of all carpet produced in the U.S., and suppliers of raw materials and services to the industry. There is continued coordination with other segments of the industry, such as distributors, retailers, and installers.