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Sustainability is affecting us NOW

Richard sets the scene for the annual CFA Sustainability Guide which is published this month with the help of CFJ.

THIS CFJ article is dedicated to setting the scene for the annual CFA Sustainability Guide which is published this month with the help of CFJ. In support of its sustainability and environmental themes, the Guide can be accessed digitally through the CFJ and CFA websites by clicking on the QR code below.

Most of us still require a high level of support on sustainability issues and to be kept updated with the latest information relevant to our businesses. Relevance to day-to-day business needs is the key point for us in this year’s CFA Sustainability Guide – making the link between the abstract and the granular.

There are direct cost implications with a lot of these things and at the end of the day, money talks. Even if you do not connect climate impacts on your business with sustainability as such, there are new measures coming forward apace from Government in the way of new regulations, some of which inevitably mean new taxes. That will help concentrate the mind.

At a time when we are all busy and may feel ourselves spread too thinly, we produce our annual Sustainability Guide specifically to involve ourselves as the CFA at a practical level that is of value to the sector.

There are some companies which have been involved in this for a number of years, and one might call them experts, but there are others which are right at the beginning of their sustainability journeys. To bring these new people along, to get them involved, we need to try and make sense of the complications which sustainability entails.

And let’s be clear, beyond the top-level concepts, it can get very complicated, with some manufacturers having to consider completely new product designs and concepts at all levels. Packaging design, manufacturing processes and logistics schemes that were not needed when sustainability was not a consideration now need to be on the agenda. Sustainable operation means it is no longer OK to put everything in a skip and send it to landfill at end of life. It is why many companies throughout the supply chain employ people whose focus is entirely, or encompasses, sustainability.

Highlights of this year’s Guide include interviews with the Construction Products Association (CPA) Sustainability Policy Advisor Jane Thornback, whose article on some priorities to consider features in this year’s Guide. Jane has continued to work incredibly hard to produce a vital series of Briefing Documents, containing practical advice for businesses on sustainability. What they need to do in order to play their part, keep on the right side of impending Government legislation and meet customer and investor expectations in the marketplace.

The Briefing Documents are available on the CPA website and, as last year, we have very kindly been given permission to reproduce a number of the most relevant (and new) ones in this Guide in their entirety, and we also include links to where you can find all the others.

As well as the CPA, I’m delighted that we have secured content this year from BEIS and I’m grateful to Stuart Young for making the time to speak to us and contribute his views on current Government thinking on sustainability and how the industry as a whole, via the Construction Leadership Council, has a clear channel for representation with the relevant ministers in order to drive progress on sustainability forward.

It is also good to hear from Sébastien Combey of Unilin in Belgium, who tells us about his company’s pioneering work on materials separation, which is being carried out in France, and also the involvement of CISUFLO the European project to develop recycling and circularity within the European floorcoverings industry. Although we are inspired by the work being carried out by a number of our European neighbours, this does however reinforce the scale of the task here in the UK, where the onus is perhaps more on the industry – and that means you and me – to pick up the baton and run with it.

I’m grateful to all those who have contributed their time and effort to create the content for this year’s Guide, whether contractors, manufacturers, distributors or those directly involved in the recycling business. Their journeys are also featured in the Guide with some great products to consider.

I strongly believe that pulling a coherent thread for people to follow is our key challenge. Hopefully by making it real through work such as this Sustainability Guide, we delve into the practicalities and help to make the topic meaningful for companies in their day-to day businesses. We know that we need to help people understand the connection between the manifestations of the climate crisis on the one hand and on the other the fact that we as an industry are still making some products that are difficult to re-use, difficult to de-construct, or difficult to recycle.

Although the flooring element may be less than 1% of the cost of a major new-build project such as a hospital, flooring contractors are now having to jump through the same hoops as those who are involved in much bigger ticket aspects of a project. We really need to keep up, as sustainability in commercial flooring is very much a NOW thing.

The CFA is a leading trade association representing the flooring Industry. If you would like further information about our work on sustainability, please contact us.
0115 9411126

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