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Some Green Pointers For Flooring Contractors

Janet Lowe, UK market manager at Forbo Flooring Systems, looks at what flooring contractors should be aware
of in terms of sustainable development: 

FLOORING product development and design has changed significantly over the last few years, with customers demanding more environmental credentials from products than ever before.

An increase in recycling and better management of waste materials has an important role to play in sustainable development, but true sustainability runs much deeper than this and should consider the overall impact of a product throughout its entire lifecycle.

Contractors need to be able to identify the most sustainable products available in order to provide the best advice to their clients – this means partnering with reputable manufacturers that aim to provide sustainable integrated flooring solutions for every building, from bedroom to boardroom, from the local doctor’s practice to operating theatres.

Indeed, manufacturers must be able to demonstrate robust environmental principles and working practices, such as applying the 4 R’s: Reduce, Renewable, Reuse, Recycle.

Being seen as ‘green’ has become important for all businesses, as customers are increasingly demanding sustainable products. Recycling schemes have an important role to play in improving the environmental performance of the flooring industry as a whole – and are certainly making an impact as more manufacturers become involved.

Initiatives such as Back to the Floor and Recofloor, are fairly well known to contractors, however there are also programmes such as Vinyl Plus whose goal is to increase PVC recycling in Europe and Carpet Recycling UK (CRUK), which has a target to divert 25% of carpet waste from landfill by 2015 recovering valuable raw materials, which reputable manufacturers are becoming involved in.

Participation in schemes such as these is a good indication of a manufacturer’s eco-credentials but how can contractors truly be sure about green claims? The starting point for many is to evaluate what raw materials are used in the flooring, the manufacturing processes and any independent environmental accreditations the flooring has received.

Many manufacturers now employ responsible manufacturing processes and hold ISO 140001. In addition, eco labels and accreditations are independent assessments or third party endorsements where the products have been externally assessed based on strict environmental criteria,

Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) are crucial in measuring a product’s true eco-credentials. The studies investigate the environmental impact of products from cradle to grave – from raw materials, pre-processing, production, distribution, installation, use, maintenance and recycling to disposal. LCAs and EPDs therefore allow all environmental aspects related to a product to be taken into consideration – and it is here that linoleum scores particularly well.

Of course, for contractors, being able to recommend the most environmentally friendly products to meet clients’ needs is the key and so it is important to stay in contact with trusted manufacturers, as a responsible company will be only too happy to provide the appropriate support and guidance.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at