State of Sustainability 2023: Driven by end-user and A&D demand, carbon and circularity are where most manufacturers are focusing their efforts - Aug/Sept 2023

By Darius Helm, Jessica Chevalier and Jennifer Bardoner

This year, manufacturers reported on points of progress in their sustainability journeys, including progress made toward reductions in energy use, water use, waste, greenhouse gas emissions and more, along with increases in the use of renewable energy and the development of high-performance bio-based products and PVC-free resilient flooring formulations. In addition, most are measuring the embodied carbon of their products, and some of the biggest players are offering carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative products, using carbon credits to offset the embodied energy of their products. Larger producers that can handle the added cost of neutralizing their products have a significant advantage over the small and medium-sized operations.

“All of the low-hanging fruit is gone,” says Lisa Conway, Interface’s vice president of global sustainability, and the industry has now entered into an era that requires of “insane” levels of innovation to continue to make meaningful gains.

Manufacturers are also talking a lot about circularity and how to ensure that products and all their ingredients are recirculated into the technosphere as raw material streams to be turned into new products, perhaps even new flooring.

This broadens the conversation beyond issues like post-consumer recycled content or even clean chemistries to recyclability, designing products for both their functional life and end of life. That can be anything from making a product out of a single molecule, like PET in Engineered Floors’ Kinetex or Shaw’s ReWorx, or designing products for easy separation (and easy reclamation) at end of life. The strategies here range from glueless installations to unzipping technologies (using heat, light, motion, chemicals, etc.), which are mostly still in the R&D stage, to mechanical or even chemical recycling processes that yield streams of different chemicals, like fiber producers Aquafil and Ascend are doing. Aquafil is well known for its depolymerization process that chemically converts post-consumer nylon 6 back into a regenerated fiber, and more recently, Ascend is using its Circular Polymers acquisition to create the Cerene line of recycled polymers and materials.

THE CARBON EQUATION
Embodied carbon, a measure that reflects the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from all chapters of a product’s life-manufacturing, transportation of everything from ingredients to final products, installation, maintenance-has become a key selling point for green products. It’s expressed as kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per square meter, and it’s included in environmental product declarations (EPDs).

By that measure, among the most problematic are the two biggest categories, carpet and vinyl flooring, assuming no sustainability attributes. A case study published last year by Perkins&Will in partnership with Healthy Building Network ranks hardwood as the flooring with the best profiles (least global warming impact), followed by cork and linoleum.

Products that last a long time can have a much lower footprint, and largely for this reason, vinyl flooring ranks quite a bit higher than carpet (though it ranks lower in material health). Interestingly, wool carpet ranks lower than nylon carpet, and this is because of the embodied carbon accrued at the production site, i.e. the sheep-the impact of their own lifecycles and even their GHG-emitting burps.

According to Teresa McGrath, chief research officer at Healthy Building Network and a contributor to the case study, research revealed that many of the carpet EPDs in the study cited raw materials and their production as the biggest contributors to lifecycle impacts, meaning that focusing on that aspect-by, for instance, using a 100% recycled fiber or recycled backing or running the production line on green energy-can have an outsized impact on embodied carbon.

A lot of the larger manufacturers have touted carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative floors in the last couple of years, using carbon credits to bridge the gap between their products’ embodied carbon and zero. In some cases, it’s a yawning chasm. In other cases, manufacturers exhaust every avenue to lower the embodied carbon and the credit is much smaller proportionally.

Some manufacturers offer a range of carbon-neutral products and, if a specifier wants it, will custom offset the balance with other products in their portfolio. According to Roxane Spears, Tarkett’s vice president of sustainability for North America, some big accounts need a carbon-neutral program, while others do not, so it didn’t make sense-considering that credits can be pricey-to purchase credits across the entire portfolio.

Some manufacturers remain wary about carbon credits. Graham Capobianco, Novalis’ North American sustainability manager, reports that the firm does not currently purchase them, adding, “Many carbon credit programs have been fraught with fraud and proven to be inconsequential in achieving meaningful carbon reduction and natural resource protection. Moreover, they incentivize ‘business as usual’ and prevent companies from being held accountable for not making meaningful reductions to their environmental impacts.”

Likewise, Jenne Ross, Karndean’s director of product, says, “Offsetting is not part of our sustainability strategy,” contending that credits allow firms to make no meaningful changes to reduce their own emissions. And while that’s certainly true, many of the green leaders in manufacturing point out that they do both, and that they do their research before selecting a carbon credit provider.

WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT TREND IN SUSTAINABILITY RIGHT NOW?
• Mohawk’s Malisa Maynard: Climate is at the top of everyone’s mind: decarbonization; lifecycle analysis, including carbon, water and waste impact; and also product circularity, which supports decarbonization work.

• Interface’s Lisa Conway: One is definitely embodied carbon, which has been gaining traction in the marketplace since 2018, when we were still educating people who hadn’t even heard the term.

• Mannington’s Shane Totten: I have spent the last 18 months traveling with our sales reps, meeting with design firms on a sort of listening tour. There are three things we heard regularly: embodied carbon, material health, end-of-life solutions.

On one hand, you have firms like Gensler and Perkins + Will that have integrated sustainability in the largest form into their culture and practice areas. And on the other, they have healthcare, education and corporate clients that are taking a stand on one sustainable issue or more, saying, for instance, “We want to reduce our carbon footprint when we renovate because each renovation is a carbon injection,” or “We want something recycled or recyclable,” or “We want to move away from PVC.” So, there is a push-and-pull happening. And we, as manufacturers, need that pressure. We need customers and designers that are challenging us to do better.

• Tarkett’s Roxane Spears: The most important trend is probably accountability. Customers and design firms are setting new standards for what they want, and it’s all about transparency and holding manufacturers accountable.

Also, recylability and deconstruction are becoming more of a topic, and we’ll see a lot more of that in the next few years. Europe is leading the way in demanding products that can be repaired, not just chucked out.

• Gerflor’s Joel McCausland: Based on the conversations we’re having with our customers and the A&D community, I’d say there are probably three topics right now that are trending: carbon, energy and resilience.

• American Biltrite’s Catherine Del Vecchio: The common goal that we see across the industry, from manufacturers to construction and operations of buildings, is reducing the carbon footprint and working toward goals to achieve net zero carbon emissions.

ESG AND RISK ANALYSIS
ESG, which stands for environmental, social, governance, has been in the political crosshairs in recent months, decried as a “woke” concept, but it’s actually about as conservative as you can get. ESG at its core is about the assessment of performance and risk, and it’s based on the concept that a firm with a strong focus on environmental progress, social equity and ethical governance-assuming good execution in all these arenas-is a fundamentally healthier firm with better prospects for the future than a firm that ignores all of these issues, and hence is a lower risk when it comes assembling portfolios or financing loans.

Conway says, “It’s about protecting business and mitigating risk. Investors and others will always be interested in how folks are protecting their brand from internal and external ESG impacts.” She adds, “We can’t afford to just concentrate on carbon if there are labor rights being diminished, child labor issues, etc.-all these terrible things that could be under the hood.”

Kellie Ballew, Shaw’s vice president of global sustainability and innovation, likewise asserts that ESG is a fundamental tool that’s here to stay. And Rochelle Routman, HMTX’s chief sustainability and impact officer, points out that there’s a financial benefit, including lower rates for loans. She adds, “As we build more manufacturing sites and bring new products to the marketplace with interesting green chemistries, all these things take capital, and one way the firm raises capital is from loans from banks, which are very interested in ESG and the lower risk involved.”

LOOKING AHEAD
As Routman points out, people are also paying closer attention to the palpable results of climate change this year-from the countless raging wildfires amplified by climate change, most notably in North America and Europe, and even Hawaii, to the record-breaking global temperatures in July and 100º waters surrounding the Florida Keys. And Routman notes that these effects are the result of, among other things, the incremental addition of carbon to the atmosphere over the last century or so, which means that the changes being made now won’t initially move the needle much in terms of climate impacts. Other than a temporary pandemic dip, global carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, hitting an estimated 37.5 billion metric tons last year, the highest level ever.

Arguably just as important are the financial impacts. According to estimates by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the cost of U.S. billion-dollar disasters from 2018 to 2022, adjusted to account for inflation, totaled nearly $600 billion, averaging 17.8 billion-dollar events per year. By contrast, the average from 1980 to 1989 was just three billion-dollar events per year.

The point is that vast fortunes and massive resources are being spent to deal with the impacts of climate change-and the costs will only go up and go up fast. Every billion dollars required to recover from climate change-amplified natural disasters is a billion dollars not invested in reversing course. In fact, a 2005 study by the National Institute of Building Sciences calculated that for every dollar spent on disaster risk mitigation (like combating CO2 emissions), $4 is saved on post-disaster rebuilding efforts.

Shane Totten, Mannington’s director of sustainability, says, “We are driven by the urgency of the climate crisis. We want to move swiftly to make net reductions while lowering our absolute reductions. We don’t want to wait for perfection, because we will have emitted too much carbon by then.”

As Conway notes, “We have no shortage of solutions as a global economy.”

PRODUCER UPDATES
INTERFACE
Georgia-headquartered global manufacturer of carpet tile and rubber flooring with LVT programs
• In 2022, 79% of energy used at manufacturing sites came from renewable sources-61% of thermal energy is renewable and 100% of electricity.

• In 2022, generated 11,206 metric tons of CO2e (CO2 equivalent) in total company emissions (Scope 1 and 2), down 21% from 2021 as a result of a reduction in total building footprint and reduced emissions from company vehicles.

• Consumed 523,928 GJ (gigajoules) of energy from all manufacturing sites in 2022, down from 530,753 GJ in 2021.

• In 2022, recorded 85% reduction in water intake at carpet mills from 1996 baseline.

• In 2022, recycled or bio-based content accounted for 52% of the raw materials used to make Interface products.

• In 2022, collected six million pounds of post-consumer carpet from its ReEntry program, for a total of nearly 70 million pounds since 2016.

• Is a founding sponsor of SEAM (Social Equity Assessment Method), a global building certification that aligns with many global reporting standards relating to ESG.

• At NeoCon, launched a program that includes the embodied footprint of design to A&D clients in the process of specifying, not including carbon offsets.

• Has the lowest carbon footprint carpet tiles in the market (measured from EPDs, which don’t include carbon offsets), ranging from less than 2.2 kg of CO2 equivalent per square meter to 5.4 kg CO2e/m2, and averaging 4.2 kg CO2e/m2, down 79% since 1996. Average Nora rubber carbon footprint is 8.9 kg CO2e/m2, down 17% since 2019. And its average LVT footprint is 9.1 kg CO2e/m2, down 24% since 2018. All figures are the global sales-weighted average, cradle to gate.

• In 2022, retired 418,000 metric tons of verified emission reduction credits from the sale of 42 million square meters of carbon-neutral flooring, third-party verified by the Carbon Neutral Floors program.

SHAW INDUSTRIES
Georgia-headquartered manufacturer of hard and soft surface flooring
• Has extended its ReWorx hybrid soft-surface technology to all three commercial brands-Shaw Contract, Patcraft and Philadelphia Commercial. ReWorx is a 100% PET product that uses a minimum of 20 recycled drink bottles per tile.

• In 2022, set the goal of optimizing 100% of products to be Cradle to Cradle Certified by 2030.

• Has reduced its operational carbon footprint by more than 50% since 2010 baseline (Scope I and 2 emissions), and this year has a team measuring Scope 3.

• Has reduced energy intensity by 23% and water usage per pound of finished product by 43% since 2010.

• Has expanded its offering of carpet with EcoSolution Q100, its 100% recycled nylon 6 fiber, which has increased the reduction of EcoWorx’s carbon footprint to 62% this year to a cradle-to-gate value of 4.7 kg of CO2 equivalent per square meter, among the lowest in the industry.

• Achieved landfill intensity of 3.7% in 2022, toward a goal of zero by 2030.

• Has partnered with Encina Development Group, enabling Shaw to supply over two million pounds of carpet manufacturing waste annually.

• Converted more than 2.7 billion drink bottles into flooring in the last year.

• To date, has reclaimed and recycled nearly one billion pounds of carpet. EcoWorx carpet tiles, launched in 1999, have an 800 number and website stamped on the back to facilitate cost-free reclamation. Over the last year, ReWorx, LVT and SPC products were added to the free reclamation program.

• Shaw’s ReTurn resilient recycling program, which has been reusing post-industrial material for several years, started adding post-consumer content from recaptured Shaw products earlier this year.

• Received a NeoCon Sustainability award in the healthcare flooring category earlier this summer for Dappled Light, a resilient product made of a polyurethane derived from bio-based content, including rapeseed and castor oils.

• Under its Shaw Sports Turf brand, is reclaiming end-of-life synthetic turf and turning it into a high-performance sports pad called NxtPlay.

MOHAWK INDUSTRIES
Georgia-headquartered manufacturer of hard and soft surface flooring
• As part of its air management program, rejiggered drying process to lower energy use on the residential side of Flooring North America.

• Developed soft surface product that includes Color Pulse yarn technology, a dyeing process that uses zero water.

• Achieved goal of reducing Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 25% by 2025 off a baseline of 2010.

• Currently quantifying Scope 3 emissions to identify decarbonization opportunities and build a road map for improvement.

• Reduced carbon footprint of carpet tile products by 67% over the last decade.

• Continues to grow its ReCover program for recycling of soft surface flooring, which has taken back 159 million pounds since 2006.

• Beta testing vinyl recycling program for the U.S. market, already established in Europe.
• Improving ESG reporting process through stakeholder assessment.

HMTX
Connecticut-headquartered producer of resilient flooring
• Completed construction of its new sustainable headquarters, dubbed The House Up On The Hill, in Norwalk, Connecticut. The building was designed by McLennan Design, whose founder, Jason McLennan, also founded the International Living Future Institute (ILFI)-so it’s not surprising that the headquarters was designed around ILFI’s Living Building Challenge. The building’s operation is zero carbon and net-positive in energy use, and it has been touted as one of the greenest buildings in Connecticut.

• Earlier this year, released its first Impact Report, using data through 2021, that highlights progress in ESG initiatives. Available online, the next report comes out in September. In addition to its environmental progress, the firm has been a leader in social equity for several years.

• Introduced Mycelium, its first collection of SRP Rigid Core TPU Flooring, a patent-pending technology developed in partnership with Texas-based Huntsman Corp., at NeoCon earlier this summer under the Aspecta brand. The PVC-free glueless product, composed of a PET top layer, a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) core and a crosslinked polyurethane foam on the back, is designed with circularity in mind, meaning that it can be fully recycled back into polyurethane to make new SRP Rigid Core TPU. Each square foot of the product uses two recycled PET drink bottles. According to the firm, the product, currently produced through an Asian manufacturing partnership, will eventually be produced domestically. Mycelium will start being rolled out to customers toward the end of this year or early next year, and a lifecycle assessment should be completed around the same timeframe.

• Is pursuing its goal of a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 from a 2021 baseline.

• In May, introduced a slew of product-specific EPDs for Metroflor and Teknoflor floorcoverings.

FORBO
Switzerland-headquartered manufacturer of hard and soft surface flooring
• Over the course of five years, reduced CO2 emissions through carbon capture from one pound/m2 to 1/10 pound/m2 for Marmoleum, making the product carbon neutral, cradle to gate, with no offsets.

• Completed and released a new EPD for Marmoleum.

• Introduced Circular Marmoleum Cocoa, with recycled content accounting for 33% of overall composition, made up of job-site trimmings, end-of-life Marmoleum and cocoa shells. The goal is to include 16% recycled Marmoleum, but that currently varies depending on availability of that feedstock. For every square meter of Marmoleum that is diverted, CO2 emissions are reduced by around four pounds.

• Introducing a new range of LVT products in early August with a high recycled content from a clean feedstock.

AQUAFIL
Italy-headquartered fiber firm with recycling operations in the U.S. and Slovenia
• Reduced water usage by 23% in 2022 and GHG emissions by 34%.

• Is powered by 100% renewable energy through a combination of solar, hydroelectric and purchase of green power.

• Continues investment in Econyl product-in which post-consumer and post-industrial waste is converted into new caprolactam and nylon-via improvements to physical assets, technology and the system of collecting scrap.

• In 2022, Econyl represented 43% of fiber sales, up from 37% in 2021. Is aiming for 60% by 2025.

• At present, 2,500 brands have licensed Econyl, a growth of 1,500 year over year.

• Collected 35 million pounds of post-consumer product in 2022, with target of 80 million in 2025, via three collection sites in California and collection of fishing nets through its Aquafil Chile operation and partnership with Norway’s Nofir, of which Aquafil owns 40%.

• Slovenia plant supplies thermal energy to nearby waterpark Hella Saturnus to warm the pools.

• Continues research and development of Effective with Genomatica, aiming to produce bio-caprolactam within five years’ time.

TARKETT
France-headquartered manufacturer of hard and soft surface flooring, with U.S. production
• A year ago, started moving to product-specific EPDs for all of its commercial products. So far, it has EPDs for 85% of its products, and the goal is to complete the process by the end of this year. And on the residential side, EPDs are still at least a couple of years down the road, according to the firm.

• On the social equity and governance side, has a goal of 30% of its senior managers and executives to be women by 2025, and is currently at 27%.

• Has reduced water consumption intensity by 59% since 2010 toward a goal of 65% by 2025.

• Has reduced GHG emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 41% since 2019 (up from 38% last year) toward a goal of 50% reduction by 2030.

• In 13 of its 42 global facilities, 100% of energy is renewable. In terms of total energy consumption by Tarkett globally, 43% comes from renewable energy.

• From January through July 2023, doubled 2022 total takeback volume from all flooring categories.

MANNINGTON
New Jersey-headquartered manufacturer of hard and soft surface flooring
• Inventoried Scope 1 and 2 emissions and is currently wrapping up a round of energy audits across all its facilities.

• Established intensity metrics to measure energy use per pound of product rather than against a certain date, as acquisitions and events like the pandemic skewed date-related baselines.

• Signed on to Draw Down Georgia, committing to net zero GHG emissions by 2050.

• Expanded value-chain chemical management program, scrutinizing annually to 100 parts per million rather than 1,000 parts per million as it did previously.

• Introduced a new non-vinyl tile product called the Proxy collection at NeoCon, which will launch live in October.

• Completed UN Global Compact.

UNIVERSAL FIBERS
Virginia-headquartered manufacturer of carpet fiber
• Over the last five years, has curbed emissions by 20% through a range of initiatives.

• Thrive Matter, available as either nylon 6 or 6,6, is the industry’s first carbon-negative nylon fiber, according to the firm, with 90% recycled content and using credits from Carbonfund.org to bridge the gap.

• In Thrive Bio, offsets carbon emissions by 30% by substituting petrochemical-based feedstocks with bio-based sources from renewably sourced nonfood plant materials.

• Over the past year, has made “substantial strides” in becoming greener, including by transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

• Has long embraced ESG principles, which “have tangibly impacted our business operations,” notes Ranae Anderson, Universal Fibers’ global sustainability leader.

CROSSVILLE
Tennessee-headquartered manufacturer of porcelain tile
• Is working to reduce manufactured embodied carbon by 30% compared to a 2019 baseline by 2030, as well as reduce its products’ global warming potential by 30% compared to a 2014 baseline by 2030. Will release updated GHG emissions later this year.

• Operates a tile takeback program and is increasing products’ pre-consumer recycled content where possible.

• Plant utilizes more waste than it produces and runs on a closed-loop water system to reduce water usage.

• Is in the process of exploring formal policies and procedures around ESG initiatives.

NOVALIS
China-headquartered manufacturer of flex and rigid LVT, with rigid LVT production in U.S.
• Completed a Waste Characterization & Diversion Assessment for its U.S. manufacturing facility, which revealed that over 80% of waste can be easily diverted from landfill, and is now working to find outlets for the various waste streams.

• As of June 2023, most Ava-branded flooring products feature a QR code that leads to a Digital Product Passport containing information on maintenance, repair, disassembly/reuse and recycling of the product, which can be updated as advances are made in recycling infrastructure.

• Was awarded the EHS Innovation Excellence Award for Environmental Impact by Verdantix, an EHS (environmental, health and safety) advisory and research firm, for its Digital Product Passport.

• Is conducting company pilot programs to determine feasibility of a post-consumer takeback program and recycling of Novalis’ products for use in U.S.-made materials.

• All Novalis products contain an epoxidized soybean oil plasticizer in place of dioctyl terephthalate, and several rigid core products have attached cork backing.

• Last winter, conducted a materiality assessment with internal and external stakeholders to rank sustainability topics by importance and identified several ESG principles for adoption, including aligning annual sustainability report with GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) standards.

GERFLOR
France-headquartered manufacturer of resilient and sports flooring
• Expects to fully achieve all goals for 2025: reduce carbon footprint by 20% compared to 2020 levels, increase amount of bio-sourced content from 5% up to 10%, increase amount of recycled content from 25% up to 30%, and increase adhesive-free products from 25% up to 35% across Gerflor-branded product lines.

• Reduced water usage in its factories by 85% over past 20 years. Reduced Saint-Paul, Tarare and Grillon, France plants’ energy usage by 10% over the last few years through plant improvements. French and German plants use 100% renewable energy.

• Recently completed transition of Saint-Paul and Tarare, France production site transport vehicles to electric models, with plans to expand initiative to all production sites.

• Operates a non-exclusive vinyl flooring takeback and recycling program in Europe, with a target of 60,000 tons of recycled material in 2025, up from 50,000 tons in 2020. All Gerflor products are 100% recyclable.

KARNDEAN
U.K.-headquartered producer of LVT through manufacturing partnerships
• Added a global head of sustainability, Jamie Shaw, in June 2022 to help holistically integrate sustainability across global operations.

• All purpose-built Asian factories have installed or are investing in onsite renewable energy generation and energy-efficient technology, including solar panels that generate 30% of site energy requirements, locally sourced biomass for heating and a closed-loop water system on the production line.

• This year, established science-based target for GHG reduction of at least 50% by 2030.

• Recycles post-production waste into flooring in its three U.S. facilities. All products use as much as 50% recycled LVT in backing layers.

• Partnered with a third party, Eurofins, to complete Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audits, one of the most widely used audits for assessing sites and working conditions to ensure workers are protected.

ROPPE/FLEXCO
U.S.-based manufacturer of rubber and resilient flooring
• Invested in coolers to recycle water, thereby reducing water usage by 50% at Flexco plant and 70% at Roppe plant. Is working to establish systems to recoup other reductions achieved before the pandemic: 25% reduction in waste going to landfill and 20% reduction in energy and greenhouse gases, as compared to 2016 levels. Seeking a federal grant related to energy conservation, with goal of reducing usage by another 25% by 2030.

• Operates a takeback program for its rubber products, which get recycled into new product or mulch.

• Uses bio-based plasticizers (epoxidized soybean oils) in its self-produced vinyl products.

UNIVERSAL TEXTILE TECHNOLOGIES
Georgia-based carpet backing manufacturer
• Tweaked product formulations to increase use of post-industrial recycled products as raw materials and continues to evaluate ways to increase level of recycled content while maintaining peak performance.

• Has used bio-based raw materials since the early 2000s, offsetting a portion of petroleum based raw materials through soybean polyol.

• Has begun submitting ESG reporting information to customers as requested.

BENTLEY
California-headquartered carpet mill, with LVT programs
• Completed overhaul of its fiber line, cutting embodied carbon per square yard by almost half in solution-dyed products, in part through switching fiber providers.

• Launched Afirma II-backed carpet tile, manufactured in a single pass rather than the double pass of Afirma, reducing energy impact by 50%.

• Introduced Luxfelt backing, which is PVC-free, 100% recyclable, contains up to 92% post-consumer content and features a high TAR rating.

• Working toward carbon-negative status by 2030 via manufacturing efficiencies, alterations to the mill and headquarters, and offsets.

• Continues to operate Fulfill takeback program, initiated in 1994, working with partners to reclaim any broadloom or PVC-backed carpet product and recycle it as locally as possible.

• Parent company issues ESG report under which Bentley is covered.

MILLIKEN
South Carolina-based manufacturer of carpet, LVT and entrance flooring
• Produces 100% recyclable carpet tile and PVC-free resilient flooring.

• Near- and long-term net-zero targets verified by the U.N.-backed Science Based Targets initiative; one of the first 50 companies to achieve this milestone.

• In 2023, recognized by Ethisphere as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for 17th consecutive year.

• Is prioritizing the transition toward a circular economy through floorcovering that cultivates dematerialization and offers longer functional use and ease of maintenance to uphold a high value over multiple lifetimes.

AHF
Pennsylvania-headquartered manufacturer of hardwood and resilient flooring
• At its Lancaster, Pennsylvania LVT plant, reduced the carbon footprint of Armstrong Flooring brand LVT products by 31%, driven by domestically sourcing raw materials and including components consisting of 29% recycled content.

• Looking ahead, will invest and upgrade manufacturing processes to improve yields and reduce waste to use more of the raw materials and decrease the amount of waste at its wood plants; all plants are zero discharge.

CFL
China-headquartered producer of rigid resilient and laminate flooring with U.S. production
• Last year completed its first lifecycle assessment for all rigid core flooring produced in its headquarter facility in China, and issued product-specific EPDs.

• Completed its first materiality assessment in preparation for its first publicly available Sustainability Report.

• Received a U.S. patent for its Be-Lite thermoforming technology for SPC panels that, depending on the panel’s thickness, uses up to 20% less raw materials during the panel core manufacturing process and results in lighter SPC panels.

NOX
Korea-based manufacturer of carpet tile and resilient flooring with U.S. production in Ohio
• Is pioneering Bio-Circular Balanced PVC, a sustainable raw material produced using discarded resources such as waste cooking oil, which has been verified to have a carbon reduction effect of 114% compared to that of conventional PVC. Will replace 20% of traditional PVC with Bio-Circular Balanced PVC in production at Korean factory this year, with plans to expand the model to U.S. and Vietnamese plants in the future.

• Is studying different alternative chemistries and PVC-free options. Has committed to replacing more than 95% of flooring inputs with sustainable raw materials and making all finished products 100% recyclable.

• Obtained ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification) PLUS.

• Is piloting a customer takeback project to study the feasibility of reclaiming end-of-life Nox products and recycling them into new product at its Ohio plant.

• Last year, expanded its patented non-adhesive suction-based installation method, SetaGrip, to residential market.

ECORE
Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of rubber and resilient flooring, and turf products
• Recently launched TruCircularity program, which aims to eliminate rubber waste by recycling and reimagining every end-of-life rubber floor.

• Two of Ecore’s manufacturing facilities have been UL certified as Zero Waste.

• Added regional manufacturing facilities to mitigate energy usage and the related expense of moving waste from origin to point of need. These regional facilities will also act as reclamation sites for the TruCircularity program.

FLORIM
Italy-headquartered manufacturer of ceramic tile, with U.S. production
• Reduced standard pressed tile thickness from 10mm to 8mm while continuing to meet the ANSI and ASTM requirements for pressed tile, for an immediate 20% reduction in the amount of raw materials consumed and shipped and a 20% increase in volume on a truck of finished goods, thereby representing a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

• Year to date, reduced electrical energy use by 7.6%.

• Is adding two large-format gauged panel lines for tile up to 48”x110”, which brings production efficiencies in energy, material and water use.

• Parent company Florim Ceramiche is B-Corp certified, a voluntary certification related to standards for social and environmental performance, which Florim USA is now pursuing.

TOLI
Japan-based resilient flooring manufacturer
• Working to reduce GHG emissions by 46% compared to 2013 baseline by 2030 and to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions compared to 2020 levels by 30% by 2030, with a goal of carbon neutrality (not through credits) by 2050. Will reduce Scope 3 emissions by increasing amount of recycled content in products.

• Operates internal recycling program in Japan and incorporates post-industrial and post-consumer waste into new product for a total of 30% of PVC inputs.

• Recently improved equipment efficiency through the use of waste heat boilers and the adoption of inverters, and switched to indoor LED lighting and some company vehicles to hybrid models.

MP Global
Nebraska-headquartered producer of flooring underlayments
• Sources and produces all of its products domestically, using a proprietary process for turning pre-consumer industrial waste from domestic carpet and textile mills into fiber-based underlayments and thermal packaging liners.

• Salvages 200 tons of material each week. And each year, prevents 300 tons of CO2 emissions and recaptures enough recycled material to fill Lambeau Field up to the sky boxes.

• QuietWalk, its biggest brand, offers recycled content ranging from 94% to 100%.

ALTRO
U.K.-headquartered producer of resilient flooring
• U.K. factory powered by certified green electricity and uses a rainwater capture system that has reduced usage by 99% since 2000. Sends zero waste to landfill.

• Last year, contracted with a third party for comprehensive assessment of its carbon footprint, with a goal of becoming carbon neutral (without offsets) for Scopes 1 and 2 by 2030.

• Operates RecoFloor takeback and recycling program in the U.K. which has recycled 6,400 tons of end-of-life vinyl flooring, irrespective of manufacturer. Is beginning a pilot takeback program in North America for offcuts of Altro products, in conjunction with recycling partner Norwich Plastics, with hopes of growing the program.

• Is pursuing a goal of increasing overall amount of recycled and/or bio-sourced content across its product portfolio from 10% up to 30% by 2030. The firm replaced orthophthalates with bio-based plasticizers made from corn and sugar beets over a decade ago.

• Has product-specific EPDs for the majority of products, with the EPDs updated every five years to show progress. Enacted in 2019, the EPDs will be updated in 2025.

• Is working toward recyclable packaging for all products; currently all safety flooring comes in 100% recyclable paper packaging.

• Donates 2% of all global profits annually to Altro Foundation for charitable outreach, which will grow with its first North American grant recipient later this year.

AMERICAN BILTRITE
Quebec-based manufacturer of rubber, resilient and engineered stone flooring
• Launched its first carbon-neutral rubber flooring collection, ABPure Infinity, which is produced using renewable natural gas made from organic food waste and is Declare Red List Free. Plans to expand this approach to future product lines.

• Currently developing three additional carbon-neutral rubber product lines to be launched within the next two years.

• Has a fully recyclable product, Texas Granite, which is formulated without any chemicals of concern.

• Plans to launch a recycling program in 2024.

WELLMADE
Oregon-headquartered manufacturer with LVT production in Georgia
• All waste materials from production of HDPC/SPC vinyl products are recycled back into the production of new flooring. The firm is looking at ways to create collection programs to take back HDPC/SPC vinyl products and recycle into new products.

• At the Cartersville, Georgia plant, all production waste is recycled back into new production and all water used in production, including captured rainwater, is in a closed loop system that recycles it for production.

WHICH OF YOUR FIRM’S STRATEGIES
HAVE MOST IMPROVED ITS ENVIRONMENTAL FOOTPRINT?

• Forbo’s Casey Johnson: As a company, without a doubt, it has been our move toward circularity. What that does is allow us to focus on five areas. From the manufacturing side, that starts with product development and design, using only the raw materials it takes to make that product without waste, ethically sourcing raw materials and designing to have no output of waste. In addition, it’s about how we get it to market. We use 100% green electricity. Being built for purpose makes a big difference. We consider durability-how long a floor can be used. The biggest aspect of circularity is a long service life and then reuse. Can the product be easily uplifted and repurposed?

• Mannington’s Shane Totten: To date, it has been the aggregate impact of having formal environmental and social initiatives, deciding to be more serious about these issues and expanding how we address them. As a family-owned business, we have core values that have grounded us in a sense of service to our communities and customers. We also see this as an act of stewardship for future generations of owners.


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