11/06/2012

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Storm hits Europur

"There are several reasons for the lower than expected participation,” suggested Ward Dupont, President of Europur. He listed the proximity of the meeting to Utech, national holidays in Germany and Austria, and the on-going impact of the EU investigation of foamers into breaches of competition laws, in the USA and Europe. Further problems look set to impact the association, with the dissolution of both the German flexible foam association VWI and the Polish flexible foam association Polpur. Germany and Poland are the largest producers of flexible slabstock and currently have no representation within Europur. In addition, the economic conditions have led to the non-payment of annual membership dues, and some foamers leaving the business, both leading to a further reduction in membership numbers. "Our industry needs a strong and fully compliant industry association, more than ever,” explained Olivier Chapelle, CEO, Recticel. During a short presentation he went on to give examples of how successful, cohesive trade associations could achieve positive results for all its members. One example was the successful lobbying of the French government and the automotive industry by a component manufacturers association, leading to the reversal of a 30 year old law that allowed OEMs payment terms of 120 days. This was having a crippling effect on the Tier 1 suppliers. Chapelle also went on to explain that the perception of chemicals was getting worse from HSE issues amongst workers to the consumers, therefore a strong and united association is needed to respond to these challenges and those of sustainability, renewability, and responsibility. Product stewardship is the No 1 priority and can be achieved working with related associations such as Isopa and downstream associations of bedding and furniture manufacturers. "In the current climate, European foamers need a "one voice” approach to communication with all interested parties, and to this end Recticel will continue to support Europur”, he concluded. "Europur undertakes essential work to protect the future of the flexible slabstock industry,” continued Axel Kamprath, General Secretary, Europur. He further emphasised that "the association continues to promote PU foam as a safe, environmentally sound and versatile product. Europur aims to be prepared in case of media attacks helping to avoid negative attitudes to PU foam. Support has been provided to members with regards to REACH, members are also in dialogue with the EU concerning the mattress Eco-label, and the CertiPUR label continues to be promoted. The association can also clearly demonstrate technical competence and knowledge through research. Our total budget of EUR 500,000, and is symbolic in terms of the size of the industry.” During the general assembly, Europur board members appointed a small Task Force to investigate membership needs and to develop a programme to illicit support from the entire European industry. A report is expected by the autumn.

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