As concerns about the environment and carbon emissions become more prominent, it has perhaps never been more important to know the sustainability qualifications for the products and brands that we use. The flooring industry is no exception and with that in mind, here we will try to give you a little information about some things to look for and highlight some of the brands that are doing their bit.
There is a common misconception that because you need to chop trees down to create a wooden floor, they can contribute to deforestation and be hurtful to the environment, but this is not necessarily the case. Most engineered floors source their wood from responsibly managed forests created for this very purpose. In many cases, felled trees are replaced by multiple saplings ensuring that over the long term the number living trees actually increases. Similarly Laminate can be constructed from by-products of wood harvesting and can be sourced from saw mills and forest management programs meaning no new trees need to come down at all. Thankfully, you don’t have to take the manufacturer’s word for it as there independent certifications to help you verify if a product is being sourced and produced responsibly. For wood based floors, the two key bodies awarding these certifications are the Forrest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). If a product carries a logo from one of these guys, you can feel pretty confident that your floor has good green credentials.
At Floor Design, all of the engineered wood and laminate products we sell come from partners who are FSC and/or PEFC certified. In particular, Ted Todd take pride in their sustainability efforts with extensive information provided on their website about all aspects of their green approach.
There are many aspects of a carpets manufacture that can have an impact on the level of sustainability. The most obvious of these is the material that has been used to construct the weave of the carpet. Naturally occurring fibres like wool, cotton, silk, linen, jute, coir, sisal & seagrass have much lower environmental impact and require less processing than a man made fibre like polypropylene or nylon. Natural fibres will also biodegrade much more easily reducing the need for landfill or other more harmful disposal techniques. Some manufacturers will go further still to use naturally occurring products to back their carpets as well natural dyes to achieve their desired colours. As with wood products, there are certifications out there, although there are many more of them for carpet and as yet none of them have the universal recognition of the FSC or PEFC so you may need to do a bit more research to verify how much effort carpet manufacturer is making to be sustainable. Some efforts are more transparent though. Riviera have many certifications as well as being able to boast natural dyes, backing and yarn in addition to embracing solar energy to power one of their factories. Alternative Flooring, while also using many natural materials in their carpets, have taken steps to offset their carbon footprint by linking to reforestation initiatives and planting trees when samples are ordered from their website.
On the face of it, LVT would appear to be the least ‘green’ of the flooring options we provide. It definitely uses more chemicals and requires more industrial processes to manufacture than wood or a natural fibre carpet. However, it’s not all bad news. LVT lasts a long time if properly cared for and thus reduces the need for repeated work on your floors. LVT is very easy to clean and maintain meaning the use of cleaning chemicals and solutions can be kept to a minimum. The product is small and lightweight making it easier to transport and therefore reducing the environmental impact of getting the material from the factory to your home.
As ever, certain manufacturers make more effort than others. Amtico have made significant efforts to improve processes and have clearly defined plans for improving their green credentials further in the future. Measures include refining production techniques to reduce the consumption of harmful chemicals, minimising carbon emissions during manufacture as well as bringing in schemes to recycle unused samples to prevent unnecessary material ending up in landfill.