• Erin Berg

Environmental crackdown in China hits furniture

Delays and price increases could be on horizon

HIGH POINT -- According to various furniture sources, the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) has increased enforcement of clean air and water laws resulting in closures of plants, among them dye houses and cover mills in the Haining area known for fabric production.

China pollutionThe Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection has fined, suspended production and shut down polluting factories.

Some upholstery manufacturers said about mid-August they received information from either partner suppliers or third party sources that government environmental teams had stepped up inspections of various manufacturing facilities and more strictly enforce regulations and laws that went into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

Jay Carlson, president of Nice Link Home Furnishings, a resource for fabric, leather and upholstered furniture based in Shanghai, said, “The Chinese (government) is being proactive, but it is disrupting manufacturing and putting a lot of stress on the supply chain as it relates to the soft goods of the furniture business – tanneries, dye houses, PU (polyurethane) suppliers, paper and carton, and foam.”

While sources said the closures appear to mostly affect smaller operations, they anticipate delays in delivery times and increases in prices.

“We work with name brand suppliers there that have (compliant) processes in place, but the industry could see delayed lead times by two to three weeks. This affects more than dye houses and PU manufacturing. It’s any process that involves chemicals and the disposal of them, petroleum-based products and high polluting activities, such as painting, stamping facilities, and plastics manufacturing,” said Chuck Tidwell, vice president of merchandising and product development at Franklin Corp.

A company official at Best Home Furnishings said they have heard of PU factories, dye and finishing houses not meeting environmental requirements, which has temporarily closed some facilities that the domestic upholstery producer works with but expect to reopen Sept. 15. However, the company does not expect to be “greatly affected because we inventory a significant amount of roll goods.”

Randy Spak, CEO of key upholstery resource American Furniture Mfg., said he thinks these recent shutdowns could have a more lasting effect than those during the G20 Summit in Hangzhou last fall, which prompted in most cases temporary closures of factories within approximately 150-kilometer radius of the host city.

According to MEP, China’s increased enforcement is yielding results, and the head of its monitoring bureau, Tian Weiyong, reported this week that in July 3,416 cases of “violation of environmental law and regulations were found and punished nationwide, an increase of 92% year-on-year.”

If you have information to contribute to this developing story, please contact Erin Berg at eberg@furnituretoday.com or by phone 336-605-1040.

Erin BergErin Berg | Associate Editor

Erin Berg is an Associate Editor for Furniture/Today. After earning her B. A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Southern California, Erin began her career in marketing where she served clients in a wide variety of industries from film and television entertainment to aviation. Erin lived in Italy and four different states before landing in North Carolina in 2009.

Erin can be reached at EBerg@furnituretoday.com or at 336-605-1040.

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