Sustainability has become an increasingly important consideration, in more recent times, as we’ve come to understand the impact of our consumption choices on the surrounding environment. This goes for everything from personal consumption, to the design of spaces. This means that architects and corporate designers are - and will continue to be - tasked with accounting for sustainability in their projects.
One of the ways to bring sustainability and green thinking into a design project is through the choice of flooring. But when it comes to carpeting, ensuring sustainability can sometimes be a confusing task. There are a number of products that claim to be sustainable, a number of factors that impact overall sustainability and a number of different sustainability certifications that exist, operating on different geographical level — national, regional, etc.
While it’s great that so many manufacturers and legislative bodies are considering sustainability, it makes it hard to make the most informed decision as to which products are truly the best for people and planet.
Our Global Account Manager Kim Monrad answers our most frequently asked questions about carpets and sustainability. In this video, Kim explains the type of sustainability certifications for commercial carpets to look out for, and especially the Cradle to Cradle certification.
Which factors should you be considering when you search for sustainable carpets?
If sustainability is important for your project, make sure to select a carpet manufacturer that deeply considers their environmental responsibility at every level of the manufacturing process and at every stage of the product lifecycle. Here are a few key things to look for when selecting sustainable carpets for commercial projects.
- Sustainable raw materials:
Select a manufacturer that offers commercial carpets made from recycled materials. At Ege, for example, a large majority of our collections are made from ECONYL® yarns. That is, yarn made entirely from regenerated textiles, such as used carpeting, discarded fishing net or textile waste from clothing manufacturing.
Selecting sustainable materials shouldn’t just be constricted to your choice in carpeting, you should also be considering it with your selection of carpet backing. At Ege, we offer Ecotrust backing, made from recycled water bottles, which are first converted into plastic flakes and then into the soft fibres that make up the PET-felt backing.
When you look for sustainable materials, keep an eye out for materials, such as ECONYL® yarns and Ecotrust backing, which are both regenerated - made from recycled materials - and regenerable - can be converted into new products after use, contributing to a closed-loop system.
- Carpet recycling: responsible disposal
Beyond the materials that went into your sustainable carpet, you’ll also want to consider your carpet recycling possibilities, once you’ve gotten your use out of it. Talk to your manufacturer about the end-of-life disposal for the carpet you select, and make sure they have a solid plan in place.
Some manufacturers, such as Ege, even offer carpet recycling programmes, whereby you can deliver your used carpet for recycling. Ege’s carpet recycling programme, Recover by Ege, is intended to extend the lifetime of the carpets and avoid the process of incineration for as long as possible.
One aspect of the programme - Ege vintage - even facilitates the resale of refurbished carpet tiles via their webshop. For carpets in too poor of condition for resale, ege ensures continued use by reselling them to companies that can use them as fuel or make new products from them.
- Cradle to Cradle certification
A good way to ensure sustainable carpet is to look for a manufacturer that operates according to corporate policies, in line with sustainable development goals. That is, they focus on people (social responsibility), planet (environmental protection) and profit (economic development).
The exact extent to which a company operates in accordance with such policies is not always transparent. Certain certifications, though, can help you access the credibility of their claims. The most stringent, widely accepted and comprehensive one is Cradle to Cradle CertificationTM.
For more information, check out our article, 11 Things you Need to Look for When Talking Carpets and Sustainability.
What is Cradle to Cradle certification?
The Cradle to Cradle product standard™ acts as a guide for manufacturers and designers, through a continual improvement process - toward fully sustainable practice - in all stages of the product lifecycle—from the sourcing of material, right up to facilitating the responsible disposal or recycling of worn goods.
Essentially, the goal of the standard is to move toward a world where consumption of resources not only makes the smallest environmental footprint but actually contributes to a positive footprint.
“ Imagine a carpet made exclusively from recycled materials. After use, the carpet is broken down into smaller components, which are used to make new carpets. The energy for this production comes from offshore wind turbines, and the surplus heat from production is used to heat municipal buildings. This is the ultimate example of Cradle to Cradle philosophy applied to carpets.”
To achieve Cradle to Cradle Certification™, a carpet is accessed on five quality categories: material health, material reutilisation, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.
Why does Cradle to Cradle certification matter?
Choosing a commercial carpet that is Cradle to Cradle Certified™ is the best way to ensure you’re choosing a truly sustainable carpet.
While it’s of course possible to independently access your carpet or manufacture of choice based on various sustainability parameters - such as sustainable materials, responsible production and recyclability - choosing Cradle to Cradle Certified™ products is a quick and simple way to ensure your selection lives up to appropriate sustainability standards.
In order to ensure that you’re making the most sustainable choice when it comes to your carpeting, without unnecessary complexity, choosing Cradle to Cradle Certified™ carpets is definitely your best bet if you're on the look for a sustainable carpeting option.