Seminar sheds light on sustainable flooring in the real world

A recent seminar, sponsored by Tarkett, brought together specifiers, designers and developers to discuss sustainability and the environment, with a special focus on resilient flooring. Topics covered included the guidelines and regulations regarding installation, waste management and recyclability and how they are managed in major public projects today.

The panel of speakers included industry experts and representatives from some of the country’s leading contractors, whose collective expertise encompasses the most up-to-date research, standards, good practice and thinking concerning the resilient flooring market today.

Pete Thomas of the Flooring Sustainability Partnership reflected on recent research from the Flooring Resource Efficiency Action Plan, which reported a 33% increase in vinyl flooring recycling and an increase of over 50% in carpet manufacturing waste. He then examined current and future European legislation and UK government policy, including the introduction of CE marking for all construction products from 2013. This was followed by an update on the re-launched Vinyl 2010 scheme, now known as VinylPlus, which includes a commitment to annually recycle 100,000 tonnes of vinyl that requires ‘innovative approaches’, such as end-of-life flooring. As a full member of the scheme, Tarkett is actively involved in researching and developing new methods for recycling all types of flooring.

Roger Frost, Director and General Manager for Balfour Beatty in the Midlands, then reviewed some of the major challenges facing a large-scale construction project, using his experiences on the new £542m Birmingham Hospital to explain how the use of closed-loop recycling and off-site construction can help to achieve environmental targets. Twelve rooms were successfully trialled with Tarkett’s closed-loop scheme, whereby flooring offcuts were reprocessed into the backing for new safety flooring, which was then returned to site for installation. Thus proving to the industry that it can be done.

The Tarkett Group’s approach to sustainability is called ‘Balanced Choice’, and Peter Okmark, Environment and Sustainable Manager for Tarkett was on hand to explain the principles of this approach, along with an introduction to the new Cradle-to-Cradle certification scheme. Tarkett is one of the first companies to promote and adopt this concept, both in it’s approach to new materials and in terms of product certification and has recently been awarded a Silver Certificate for its Linoleum range.

Finally, Nick Baker, Sustainable Procurement Lead for Skanska gave a fascinating insight into his company’s ‘Journey to Deep Green’, covering Skanska’s environmental commitment and focusing specifically on waste management strategies at the ongoing Barts and Royal London Hospitals project as an example of best practice. To date, over 6 tonnes of Tarkett vinyl flooring offcuts have been returned for recycling, helping to achieve a total of 96% of all waste from the project being diverted from landfill.

The seminar proved to be very popular and enlightening as one guest remarked: “Thank you….This seminar has clearly shown Tarkett as a shining example of good practice and leading the way in sustainable practice.”

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