The Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) has strengthened and clarified requirements for companies that currently have or are looking to become certified in the association's Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP), the association announced today.

The new measures, decided at KCMA's November meeting, mandate the use of California Air Resources Board (CARB) Airborne Toxic Control Measures (ATCM) compliant low-formaldehyde emitting materials. The rules also offer extra rewards to companies that use sustainable forestry certified solid wood and plywood as well as companies that offer a chain-of-custody sustainable forestry certification on at least one line of products.

These new measures become effective Jan. 1. Currently there are over 140 companies that are ESP-certified, KCMA said.

Companies become certified through the ESP after earning points in each of five categories: air quality, product resource management, process resource management, environmental stewardship, and community relations. ESP also upped the number of points awarded to manufacturers who use hardwood and softwood plywood.

"The KCMA Board of Directors reviews the ESP specifications annually and acts on the recommendations of its ESP Committee.," KCMA executive vice president Dick Titus said. "Third-party verification continues to be a critical part of the program. By re-evaluating these specifications each year, we ensure that ESP maintains its credibility by keeping up with the latest technology, changes in industry standards and new federal/state regulations."

KCMA Environmental Stewardship Program encourages companies to use low-formaldehyde emitting materials, practice environmentally safe manufacturing processes, and sourcing of raw materials in an environmentally sensitive manner.

Reston, Va.-based KCMA is a trade association for manufacturers of kitchen cabinets, bath vanities, decorative laminate products and suppliers to the industry. The organization launched the ESP program in 2006. It is audited each year by an independent third-party environmental auditing organization.