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Another step along the long road to improve sustainability in our industry

The CFA Sustainability Guide is an example of how the CFA can provide a stage and a platform from which to communicate and to encourage collaboration, says Carl Harper.

FIRSTLY this month I would like to encourage you all to read the CFA’s annual Guide to Sustainability, which has just been published online. You will find it linked from the CFA website, the CFJ website and also you can go straight to it by following the QR code which you will find in this issue of CFJ.

Thanks as ever to the CFJ editor, publishers and staff for their continuing support and collaboration in this important annual publishing venture.

On the subject of sustainability, my sense is things are improving slowly in our industry. The problem is that it isn’t yet fast enough. I see plenty of businesses in our sector who are not yet doing what is necessary, and I think there are broadly three reasons for that: firstly it is because they are finding it too much hassle; secondly it’s because of the cost and thirdly it’s because no one is telling them they have to do it. If you put all those three things together, it is no surprise that this is only moving quite slowly.

To be honest, there is little the CFA can do regarding these factors. But what we can do is lead by example, showing how things can be done. It’s very much an education thing. Not everybody is on board yet.

Most companies have an environmental policy these days, but if you picked five and asked them what they are actually doing, I think you would struggle to get encouraging answers. Unfortunately we have a lot of greenwashing in this industry. Main contractors are keen to tell you they are doing their bit, putting up birdboxes on newbuilds or whatever, but behind the scenes they’re refusing to pay for recycling of vinyl.

It needs to be the norm not the exception to do the right thing in terms of recycling, sorting and uplifting of waste material, and unfortunately we are quite a long way from that right now. I would also encourage you to focus on your business internally as there are so many ways you can make yourself more attractive through ‘greening’ your business, as well as what you fit and the way you operate and recycle on site. There is a fantastic article in the CFA Sustainability Guide specifically on this subject.

There is still a big job to do on sustainability, and that’s where the Sustainability Guide comes in. Once again you will find within it plenty of examples of best practice, along with examples of the challenges that are being faced, and some guidance which I hope you will find genuinely useful.

I view this as an example of how the CFA can provide a stage, a platform from which to communicate and to encourage collaboration – and this goes beyond sustainability on to the other topic that I wanted to mention.

Back to basics – throughout the winter the CFA was once again running its Winter Warning campaign in which we highlighted the fact floorlayers cannot do their best work and floorcoverings, adhesives and subfloor materials may not perform properly if temperatures fall below certain norms. This is not only recognised as best practice but is detailed in British Standards and the CFA Guide to Contract Flooring. As part of the campaign we provide a toolkit to give floor layers and clients greater awareness of the conditions in which they are working and also guidance on what to do about any shortcomings.

Despite the fact we’re now in the height of summer, unfortunately we continue to receive complaints about unsatisfactory working conditions on site. In fact a lot of people will tell you the situation is currently getting worse, not better, probably reflecting the fact money for improvement is generally tight.

We’re finding that main contractors are bidding for contracts with unrealistic timescales. This may mean they get the business, but the end-result is very difficult conditions on site, particularly at the end when the floorlaying is being carried out. Heat may be less of an issue at this time of year, but cooling very likely will be, as will light, workers welfare, general site conditions and the requirement for different trades to have unhindered access to the site without compromising the ability of others to do a good job.

Look out for more support and materials from the CFA in this area which I know is in development. This is invariably down to poor programming, driven by a requirement to cut costs. If I were to ask any other flooring contractors for their views on this, I am sure they would agree.

This is getting a lot worse, mainly with regard to programming and sequencing. Everything we should have on site as a basic right is becoming a battle and we barely have enough time to do the job. This is a message we must be shouting loud and clear to the main contractors.

Finally on a cheerier note I would like to draw your attention – and that of your diaries – to a few of the really great events we’ve got coming up during the rest of the year:
Scottish Race Day, 19 June, Hamilton Park – I hope a good crowd of members make it there and have a great day.

AGM, 13 August, Coombe Abbey – all members welcome – and it will be where you get the opportunity to welcome in a new President. It seems hardly believable that my two-year tenure is drawing to an end – it has really flashed by, and I look forward to sharing some recollections of my time ‘in office’ with you in my August CFJ column.

CFA 50th Anniversary Party, 12 October, Crown Plaza Hotel, Chester – an extra special event and ticket sales are now open. See the events page on the CFA website or Email: for more info. This is one you really wouldn’t want to miss and I look forward to seeing everybody there.
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