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The green corner

Do you think the flooring industry has room for improvement on sustainability? If so, what do you think is the best way forward?

The UK flooring industry has a long way to go on sustainability, but this is common in other industries. There can be no doubt also that governments must be the main drivers for change. For the UK flooring industry, the issues are well-known: heavy reliance upon oil derived synthetic products such as plastics, including sheet materials and textiles; reliance on materials with high embodied carbon such as ceramics; a lack of recycling schemes; problems with finding safe ‘non landfill’ methods of disposal; short lifespan of some floors; and the throwaway culture, rather than aiming for refurbishment.

Manufacturers will need to innovate with new materials and processes and will need to create take-back and recycling schemes. This requires considerable resources and will work best if individual market sectors cooperate.

Environmental product declarations (EPDs) are currently the best way of measuring a product’s effect on global warming, and designers use them to specify the most sustainable products.

Widespread use of EPDs should result in manufacturers of less sustainable goods improving their products and processes. However, success depends upon specifiers acquiring the expertise to interpret EPDs properly- but they are not there yet. If designers are unable to use them to their full potential EPDs will be a passing fad, and a missed opportunity.’
Richard Aylen, technical manager, Junckers

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