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Morbern Blog Articles

Making an Environmental Impact

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MorGreenSustainable. Environmentally friendly. Green. Ecological responsibility. Various phrases describe the same thing, but the nomenclature isn’t important. What’s critical is the action behind the words.
Lowering a company’s and a product’s environmental impact is a long-term and ongoing endeavor. A “one and done” fix doesn’t work. Continual improvement is the mindset that drives ongoing, successful changes that result in real progress. It’s a mindset Morbern adopted decades ago. The company was among the first manufacturers of coated fabrics to completely eliminate heavy metals, and it ensures that the water flowing out at the end of the manufacturing process is clean enough to drink.

Reformulation

Some of the largest product changes in the company’s history have come in the last year as part of MorGreen—the story of Morbern’s journey toward sustainability. A significant portion of the company’s vinyls for the contract, healthcare and hospitality markets have been reformulated to lower environmental impact. The new formulas also ensure most materials contain bio-based renewable ingredients.
These new formulas are:
  • Bromine-free, No Halogenated Flame Retardants (HFRs)
  • Reach Compliant
  • RoHS Compliant
  • Non Toxic
  • No Heavy Metals
  • No Mercury
  • No Bisphenol A (BPA)
  • No Ozone Depleting Chemicals
  • No PBTs (Persistent Bio accumulative and Toxic Chemicals)

California Compliant

And critical to doing business in the Golden State, the company also developed a group of vinyls that comply with California AB2998, a bill which prohibits the sale of new juvenile products, mattresses and upholstered furniture with flame retardants.
Morbern’s flame retardant free and AB2998 Compliant products include: Abbey, Allante Free, Arc, Aristo, Bantam, Cinema, Flair, Hexx, Natural Linen, Verve, Vitality and Freedom. Additional product lines are scheduled to become compliant in the next few years.

Made Here to Work Here

The majority of Morbern’s vinyls are manufactured here in North America, for use in North America, eliminating the need for costly (and carbon filled) overseas shipping. Making products close to home helps not only the environment but eliminates costly and unpredictable delays for customers.
Want to learn more about Morbern’s sustainability efforts? Check out the MorGreen section of the website.

John Weaver Interview, Part Two

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John Weaver, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Morbern, has been with the company for 12 years. We sat down with him to talk about the challenges and opportunities in the vinyl upholstery industry. In part two of our three-part interview, we look at customer expectations and the properties of vinyl that are ideal for certain industries. Read part one of this interview

How have customers changed over the years? 

The expectations of customers, and their customers, is more demanding on faster and shorter lead times.

To meet that need, Morbern recently launched a sample fulfillment process. If a customer orders a sample by 3:00 p.m., the order will be filled and shipped that same day. This level of performance was unheard of only a few years ago. Now, it is the normal expectation. Anything less has the customer searching elsewhere to fill their needs. 

PVC coated fabrics have always been cleanable, durable, long lasting, cost effective, etcetera, but the expectation of performance has grown immensely. They must be more cleanable, more durable, more resilient. The paradigm has shifted to “whatever the consumer does to the product, it must withstand it, and retain all inherent characteristics found in the originally manufactured form.”

What industry do you feel can be most helped by using vinyl upholstery, that isn’t currently using it?  

The truthful answer is all industries, but let’s take a look at a few in particular.

In the mass transportation industry, research showed customers avoided upholstered bus and train surfaces due to the uncleanliness of the seating area. Evidence of bed bugs was reported (in the fabric upholstery).  This particular transit system switched to PVC coated fabric and no longer has bed bug concerns (they do not live on PVC surfaces). The seats are easy to clean, and be kept clean, and the decorative requirements were achieved.

The healthcare environment would equally benefit from increased use of PVC coated fabrics due to inherent bleach cleaner resistance and QUAT cleaner resistance properties (following proper cleaning instructions) of Morbern’s MorCare line of coated fabrics. Healthcare surfaces must be cleaned with strong chemicals to kill bacteria and viruses, and MorCare is one of the few upholstery products that can withstand harsh cleaners.

Private transportation is another industry to consider. The vegan leather characteristics of PVC coated fabrics adds to the already impressive story of inexpensive, tailorable, cleanable, durable and long-lasting seats in your car, truck or SUV.

A Tale of Two Transit Seats

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It was the best of decisions for the worst of bus seating covers. In July of 2018, The Los Angeles Times reported that the Los Angeles County Metro system switched their seating from fabric to vinyl. Citing years of consumer complaints, exorbitant dry cleaning bills and millions of dollars spent on fabric replacement, the L.A. Metro decided to change its subway seating from fabric to vinyl.

 

 

But the reason they switched goes beyond the financial issue. It had just as much to do with sanitation. Everything from blood and human waste to bed bugs and lice –not to mention spilled food and beverages— was found in the seats.  It’s enough to turn your stomach.

So why isn’t vinyl installed in all mass transit systems as a matter of practicality? The fabric industry has done a remarkable job convincing mass transit designers that fabric is good and vinyl is bad, when that’s simply not the case. There’s a time and a use best fitted to each material.

In mass transit, when the product has to withstand extraordinary use from thousands of people on a daily basis, an impermeable, cleanable barrier provided by vinyl is essential. Especially in the time of COVID, you need something that can be wiped clean and withstand the ingredients from the harshest of cleaners, while maintaining product integrity.

For years, designers and architects have blindly rejected vinyl because they’ve been taught that all vinyl is bad. But the truth is that vinyl manufacturers have made big strides in reducing waste and emissions and creating phthalate-free products.

Indeed, Morbern has long looked for ways to reduce environmental impact. We were among the first manufacturers of coated fabrics to completely eliminate heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. We ensure that the water flowing out at the end of the manufacturing process is clean enough to drink. And we have installed a new coater to better control our emissions and improve the air quality of our surrounding community.

When it comes down to it, nothing does the job like vinyl. Vinyl lasts X times longer in the field than fabric, which often ends up in landfills because of the need to replace fabric often, and requires the use of dry cleaning products to keep it in service.

Vinyl’s durability, impermeability and affordability make it the best choice for mass transit seating.

John Weaver Interview, Part One

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John Weaver, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Morbern has been with the company for 12 years. We sat down with him to talk about the challenges and opportunities in the vinyl upholstery industry. In part one of our three-part interview, we look at the misconceptions around vinyl and its role in everyday life.

In your 12 years at Morbern, what have been the biggest challenges to the upholstered vinyl industry?  

The main challenge was and is education. PVC coated fabrics are the most cost effective materials for upholstery. They are also safe, stable and PVC is inherently flame retardant and resistant. Yet, vinyl is under constant attack from organizations because of chloride.

Yet, chloride, is a common compound found in everyday life. When you put salt on your French fries, you are actually putting Sodium Chloride on your fries. When you jump into a pool for a relaxing swim, you are most likely jumping into a body of water which includes chloride (chlorine). When you use a soft water softener in your home, you are most likely using chloride-based salt crystals.

What are the most common misconceptions about vinyl?

The biggest misconception is that PVC isn’t safe. But take a look at where it’s used – in some of the most critical aspects of our daily lives – and you’ll see that can’t possibly be true. From environmental protection to healthcare we trust vinyl to do very important jobs.

Landfill sites use PVC to line the floor of their sites, to protect any environmental insensitive material leaching through into the earth.

Potable water containers use PVC material. In essence, the health and cleanliness of our drinking water is assured with the use of PVC.

Blood bags and IV bags in health care facilities use PVC material. These are just a few examples of the positive and powerful impact PVC and its applications assist in our daily lives.

National Safe Boating Week

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There couldn’t be a better time to celebrate the lifting of COVID restrictions and the official beginning of boat season!  As we all pack our sunscreen and towels, and head out to our favorite lakes, rivers, inlets and oceans, we wanted to share some good safety reminders from our friends at the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

This week is National Safe Boating Week. And although we will be talking about safe boating practices all summer, we thought NMMA’s observance was the perfect time to start.

Top 12 Safety Items You Need on Your Boat

Depending on the type of boating you do and where you do it, some of these may be required or only recommended items. Either way, you can pack most of these aboard even the smallest of boats.

  1. Medical kit for cuts, scrapes, seasickness or small emergencies
  2. Anchor with line to hold your boat in place while you wait for help to arrive
  3. Bailing device or bucket to dewater and stay afloat
  4. Oars or paddles if the engine quits
  5. Cellphone to call for help
  6. VHF radio to call for help
  7. Knife to cut a line around a fouled propeller
  8. Snorkel mask to inspect what’s going on under the boat
  9. Heavy duty flashlight
  10. Skier or diver down flag
  11. Working running lights if your boat is equipped with them
  12. A way to get weather updates because things can change quickly even on a lake

For more on safety from NMMA, head on over to their feature on 12 Safe Boating Tips.  You will learn the basics to ensure you’re safe and responsible while out on the water.

Happy Boating from all your friends at Morbern!