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Try This Checklist For Being Eco-Friendly

AS I write this Ecobuild is in full swing, again hosting educational seminars to inform contractors on the latest issues in the building industry.

Looking at the schedule of seminars this year, the one that sticks out to me is the water, waste and materials session. Sustainability remains a buzz word and an important aspect in most industries. We are nicknamed the ‘throw-away’ generation; we replace items instead of repairing and reusing, despite reminders every day of the need to slow down.

It is clear that the Government is putting a lot of effort into reducing carbon emissions, greenhouse gases and general waste. The agenda for the water, waste and materials seminar at Ecobuild addresses this – reduce, reuse, recycle – delivering the waste hierarchy effectively.

It says in summary: ‘It has long been recognised that limits to resources are and will be a major global challenge, exacerbated by population growth and increasing urbanisation. There are issues at all levels to be considered in terms of obtainable resources and their efficient and fair use.

‘This seminar stream will explore a range of approaches relating to resource stewardship in terms of water, waste and materials cycles which can contribute to achieving this goal as many of these are in the hands of built environment professionals and investors in both the private and public sector.’

When considering flooring materials, wood is perhaps the most eco-friendly choice, especially if obtained from a sustainable source. With the aim to reduce energy, carbon material waste, it is good practice for the contractor to first consider the existing flooring. Can it be refurbished rather than replaced?

It goes without saying, if you can salvage or recycle your flooring, do it. Over 400 tonnes of waste are produced in the UK every year, 54% still sent to landfill. In fact, 80% of all wasted product could actually be recycled.

Unfortunately, the construction sector is one of the biggest contributors to the problem; this is why the flooring trade needs to help the situation by contributing as little waste as possible.

Where hardwood flooring is in place, it allows for restoration, and could therefore be seen as the greenest solution. Worn wood can be sanded, cleaned and re-finished to present a fresh canvas with an as-new appearance. Further to this, where a different appearance is desired, wooden flooring is versatile as it easy to tint, stain and even apply opaque colours – whether it be a natural, toned-down appearance, or a completely diverse design statement.

Where carpet is installed, although not suitable for repair, many carpet manufacturers now offer a reclaim and/or recycling service. This allows the old carpet to be recycled which then goes into making new materials, such a vehicle parts, packaging, fuel, or even new carpeting.

This represents a closed-loop cycle that may not necessarily be 100% natural, but will reduce the consumption of other materials, making carpet a greener material than ever before. As with any material though, it is important to use an eco-conscious supplier who considers and takes green initiatives, as this will encourage the industry to move forward as a whole.

Craig Pawson is Osmo’s wood and finishes specialist
T: 01296 481220

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