Sustainable Fabric Design

Sustainability at LDI

How does LDI address Sustainable Technology?

  • Reduced Sample & Inventory Waste
  • Eco-friendly Polymer & Textile Chemistry
  • No Toxic Additives
  • Low-energy and Low Waste Manufacturing Process
  • Better Indoor Air Quality & Low VOC Emissions
  • Reduced Environmental Impact at End of Life Disposal

By specifying EnviroLeather™ you can not only feel good that you are doing something to help minimize people’s exposure to harmful toxins. You can also feel confident that EnviroLeather™ is a sustainable fabric that will hold up to heavy-duty commercial use and remain beautiful long after installation.

Reduced Sample & Inventory Waste

The amount of wasted sampling and unsold inventory of obsolete or outdated colors and designs that get put into the waste stream in the commercial upholstery industry is massive.  It is the industry’s “dirty little secret” with respect to sustainability.

The traditional Upholstery Distribution model is to forecast upcoming trends in color and pattern design then create tens of thousands of samples to distribute to design libraries around the world.

Initial production of each color in each pattern design typically results in 300-500 yards of stock being put into a warehouse in hopes that future orders will come.

Most business people are familiar with the 80/20 rule.  80% of your business comes from 20% of your product.  The same rule applies to this stock, which means that in theory 80% of the production required to launch a new product is at risk of obsolescence and disposal to the waste stream.

EnviroLeather™ by LDI has moved to a print-on-demand model. Produced within a two-week lead-time under a 5-yard minimum, the fabric for each project is made to order. The results:

  • Sampling is reduced to a fraction of the usual “industry-wide standard”
  • There’s no guessing at what will be used – rather, we print to-order – eliminating waste and inventory obsolescence

When selecting sustainable upholstery fabric you should ensure the material passes IAQ testing. Two commonly used and accepted tests are CAL 01350 and Greenguard™. EnviroLeather™ is tested to and passes CAL 01350 as a low VOC emitting product.

Eco-Friendly Polymer & Textile Chemistry

It has now been over 50 years since, in “The Graduate”, Mr. McGuire and Benjamin had the following exchange:

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?

Fast forward to 2018 and it would be hard to argue with the validity of Mr. McGuire’s prediction.  If only someone in the 1960’s could have known, then, what we know today.  The various plastic polymers we have surrounded ourselves with have made life easier and in many ways better.  However, each polymer can come with varying degrees of impact on the environment and human health.

For instance, studies have shown PVC (vinyl) can have toxic effects throughout its lifecycle. PVC is listed on the EPA’s warning list of materials that contribute toward health safety concerns.  During manufacture, or disposal, hydrochloric acid and other toxic emissions can be created. Incineration of PVC can lead to the formation of dioxin which is a known carcinogen and hormone disruptor.

LDI has extensive experience in the research and study of polymer and textile chemistry.  From that, we have developed the “LDI Coated Fabrics Polymer Preference Hierarchy”

EnviroLeather™ by LDI uses proprietary TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) chemistry.  We designed it to be PVC-Free and avoid the performance and health safety issues associated with traditional TPU (polyurethane) upholstery.

The textile substrates behind the TPE face of EnviroLeather™ use pre and post-consumer recycled content and renewable, natural content.

If you would like to learn more about Polymer Coated Fabrics & Textile Chemistry used in upholstery in a forum that offers CEU credit, please click here for more information.

Our sustainable low-VOC faux leather products use safer materials that meet indoor air quality testing and don’t contain plasticizers, halogenated flame retardants, or heavy metals.

No Toxic Additives

When looking at upholstery, there is more to consider than just the polymer & textile chemistry used, such as the additives necessary to meet performance criteria.   For instance, PVC (vinyl) and TPU (polyurethane) often contain flame retardants, plasticizers, heavy metals, or toxic antimicrobial biocides.

Special care is taken at LDI to use additives that minimize the impact on the environment and our health.  We use no flame retardants, plasticizers, heavy metals, formaldehyde or antimicrobial biocides.

If you would like to learn more about additives used in upholstery in a forum that offers CEU credit, please click here for more information.

Learn more about the harmful effects of plasticizers.

Antimicrobials in hospital furnishings.

Low-Energy & Low Waste Manufacturing Process

Traditional print production processes involve large production runs with high energy consumption and the use of toxic solvents.  Mills ship to jobbers and jobbers ship to furniture manufacturers.  Natural resources are wasted, and pollution is created throughout the process.

EnviroLeather™ by LDI utilizes an industry first digital print process that allows for 5-yard runs printed on demand with much lower energy consumption and waste. The process uses more eco-friendly materials by incorporating water-based systems to replace toxic solvents.

We manufacture our print patterns at our own facility in New England and ship them directly to furniture manufacturers.  As a mill selling directly to the trade, LDI minimizes transportation of rolled goods.  With fewer people in the distribution chain, time, money and natural resources are saved.

Better Indoor Air Quality & Low VOC Emissions

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) inside hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other workplaces is important not only for workers' and visitors’ comfort but also for their health. According to OSHA, poor indoor air quality has been tied to headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Asthma, cancer and other diseases may have links to exposure to air contaminants.

Many factors affect IAQ. These factors include poor ventilation (lack of fresh air), problems controlling temperature, high or low humidity and the presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).  VOCs are emitted as gases from certain materials and they include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. According to the EPA, concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors and they are emitted by a wide array of products including building materials such as upholstery.

When selecting sustainable upholstery fabric, you should ensure the material passes IAQ testing.

EnviroLeather™ has been tested to two different versions of Cal 01350 test by an independent lab (Berkley Analytical). These stringent tests are designed to measure the concentration and type of volatile organic compounds that are emitted from materials into a controlled air space in a room.

  1. VOC Emissions from School Classroom Furniture Products
    The Pass/Fail results are based on the estimated indoor air concentrations of individual VOCs in classroom air for 27 furniture units relative to the maximum allowed concentrations. The results of this test show the predicted contribution of upholstery fabric to the VOC emissions of classroom pupil chair. EnviroLeather™ passed this test.
  2. VOC Emissions in Health Care Patient and Waiting Rooms
    The Pass/Fail results are based on the estimated indoor air concentrations of individual VOCs in a room using relative furniture unit and building parameters supplied by Kaiser Permanente. The results of this test show the predicted contribution of upholstery fabric to the VOC emissions of healthcare patient and waiting room furniture. EnviroLeather™ passed this test.

EnviroLeather™ by LDI’s low-VOC faux leather upholstery products can significantly reduce one common cause of potentially harmful indoor air quality.

Reduced Environmental Impact at End of Life Disposal

Is EnviroLeather™ recyclable?  Yes!  Will it ever get recycled?  No!

Since the infrastructure is not in place to sustainably recycle upholstery materials we focus our efforts on longevity and the polymer chemistry and additives discussed above.

If the material is holding up to commercial abuse, then it is not being replaced with new material and being put into a landfill.

However, everything wears out!  One of the problems associated with PVC and some TPU is that toxic additives can leach into ground water and enter the food chain.  Also, landfill fires are common and burning PVC can create and release toxic chemicals, such as dioxin, a known carcinogen and hormone disruptor, into the atmosphere.

EnviroLeather™ by LDI’s emphasis on safer polymer chemistry and additives ensures we are not putting flame retardants, plasticizers, PVC, heavy metals or antimicrobial biocides into landfills when the product eventually wears out..