For over 130 years, Tarkett has been at the forefront of the global flooring industry. Around the world, the brand has earned a reputation for reliability and innovation and is favoured by architects and building professionals for its unique combination of style, performance, and environmental credentials.
All Tarkett operations are driven by a genuine commitment to functionality and sustainability, which is matched by a guiding desire to enhance quality of life through the provision of high-quality, healthy flooring that doesn’t cost the earth.
Q: This is Tarkett’s second year supporting the Sustainability Awards. From your point of view, how has the Australian architecture and construction industry developed with respect to sustainability over the past 12 months?
RK: I have to say that the construction and architecture industry has developed a lot in terms of taking action and not just talking about it. The industry has realised that [sustainability] is useful and helpful for everyone – the building, the owner, and the occupants – so I feel that we have seen a major growth in terms of actually taking actions.
Q: With this in mind, how do you hope to see the industry stance toward sustainability evolve in future?
RK: Even now, the design and architecture firms are updating their design models. They are now designing their projects to include sustainability-related items, like importing Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) in BIM, for example. They are also now considering the sustainability of a product that they have specified from the first day of the design and specification process.
At the same time, end users have started considering the importance of sustainability, and with architects, designers, and manufacturers play their own role in doing good, together. So I think there will be more growth in that perspective.
Q: Tying in with your answer to the first question, where you said that you feel the industry is taking greater steps in terms of actually moving towards sustainability, can you talk more about Tarkett’s sustainability practice? Specifically, can you explain Tarkett’s commitment to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 2020 Sustainability Roadmap?
RK: When the Sustainable Development Goals were introduced in 2015, at Tarkett we started to adjust our strategy to achieve as many of these Goals as we could. Initially we had 5 of the Goals covered. Now, seven of the Goals are embedded into our strategy, and we’ve seen a lot of development in our work toward achieving these Goals.
Q: In terms of the Sustainability Roadmap, did a Tarkett team develop that internally? Or did you work with a consultant on that?
RK: Tarkett worldwide is working with the United Nations, the Circular Economy Association, WEF, and other organisations to follow global goals. For example, climate change and other major global targets.
Internally, we also work to achieve our business goals and development within the business – we have internal people who work on these goals and who developed the 2020 Sustainability Roadmap to cover both sets of goals.
Q: That sounds like a very well rounded approach. And speaking of well rounded, I know that Tarkett has a closed-loop, circular design strategy that is radically different to what most of the flooring industry is doing. Can you walk me through how Tarkett has incorporated Cradle-to-Cradle principles into the design and manufacturing process?
RK: Tarkett has a very solid business. We have factories and facilities all around the world, and we sell 1.3 million square metres of flooring everyday, in 100 countries. To keep that solidness in the business and grow and meet challenges like natural resource scarcity, climate change, and indoor air quality, we need to find the best ways of production.
We particularly see natural resource scarcity as a big challenge for all manufacturers – actually, all the human beings. And because of that, the Cradle-to-Cradle approach is the best thing. With Cradle-to-Cradle, you find the right raw materials to design your product and you oversee the entire production to reduce waste. You also use renewable energy and look at energy consumption.
And, of course, you have the product itself. You look at where it goes, how it’s used, and how you can get it back to the loop of new production instead of sending it to the landfill.
Of course, Cradle-to-Cradle is something that Tarkett does because we know that social responsibility is one of the most important things. Another important thing about Cradle-to-Cradle principles is that it is a process. It’s not a certification scheme where you certify the manufacturing of your product and then it’s done. No – it helps the manufacturer to improve and optimise their production and raw material usage and the product itself. It’s an ongoing improvement project that we have implemented in all of our facilities now. All of our factories follow Cradle-to-Cradle principles, and we have transparency in the raw materials that we use and we are always optimising and improving our process. We have 34 factories around the world. That’s a lot of factories, and within those 34 industrial sites we have 7 recycling centres.
Q: Yes, Tarkett has been a leader in industrial recycling for years. Are you able to provide more details about ReStart, Tarkett’s recycling program and how this came into being?
RK: Tarkett started recycling in 1957, during our vinyl production process. We started by collecting the wastage from production and using this as a new raw material. Today, following Cradle-to-Cradle principles and looking at natural resource scarcity, Tarkett has decided to work on production in a way that considers post-installation, post-production, and post-consumer waste and how this can get back to the loop of production.
With our ReStart program, we have collected 99 000 tonnes of products since 2010, in Europe and North America. Globally, Tarkett encourages people and our distribution channels to help with the ReStart program – in fact, it’s not just one party’s job. Everyone needs to collaborate to help the recycling happen. With ReStart, we have started informing our customers and distribution channels to help us help them with collection of their products or local recycling [facilities] or ship it back to our factories.
Q: Fantastic. Is there anything else that you want people to know about Tarkett’s sustainability practice?
RK: I’d like to expand on what we’re doing in Australia. We have 33 products that are certified GreenTag Green Rate Level A: when these products are used in GreenStar projects, they can achieve 100% of the applicable points. We’ve also created our own individual EPD, which is very important in showing the life cycle of the whole project.
We also have 20 products that are certified best environmental practice PVC by the Vinyl Council of Australia and GreenStar. This means that we’ve assessed all of our raw material suppliers and the way that we produce our PVC products according to the guidelines, and that information is also available on our website.