Building materials play an important role in occupant health and well-being in office and home environments, particularly because many people spend significant amounts of time in buildings with closed air loops. Many materials used in buildings can emit chemicals, such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that decrease indoor air quality.i Manufacturers of such components can minimize the impacts their products have on indoor air quality by reducing the amount of VOCs used in manufacturing and selecting chemical substances known to be safe. In addition, manufacturers can improve environmental impact by designing products that require fewer raw material inputs and can easily be recycled post-use.
Tarkett is a global leader in innovative and sustainable solutions for flooring and sports surfaces, with net sales of €2.7 billion in 2015. It designs, manufactures, and sells vinyl, carpet, wood, laminate, synthetic turf and athletic tracks, and other specialty flooring products for the residential and commercial markets in Europe, North and Latin America, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Asia-Pacific. Offering a wide range of flooring and sports solutions, Tarkett serves customers in more than 100 countries worldwide. With 12,000 employees and 34 industrial sites, Tarkett sells 1.3 million square meters of flooring every day for hospitals, schools, housing, hotels, offices, stores, and sports fields.
Tarkett has been deploying a sustainable development strategy, transforming its business toward a purposeful and collaborative circular economy model, positively impacting people, planet, and profit. As part of this sustainable development strategy, Tarkett seeks to eco-design its products with materials that are good for human health and the planet. Tarkett optimizes the use of resources at each stage of their life cycle (i.e., design, production, use, and disposal through recycling) in accordance with Cradle to Cradle® principles to make a positive contribution to the environment and human well-being.
In the framework of its closed loop circular design approach, based on four pillars (good materials, resource stewardship, people friendly space, and reuse), Tarkett works to optimize the use of resources during manufacturing operations. Tarkett monitors key performance areas relating to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water use, and waste generation through its “World Class Manufacturing” program deployed within all plants worldwide, and reports this information publicly.
Since 2011, Tarkett has designed processes and products following the Cradle to Cradle® principles. As an example of this approach, Tarkett has developed a new generation of vinyl flooring. To do this, it incorporated the following considerations:
- Eco-Design: Assessing and selecting good materials, optimizing the use of resources during the production phase, contributing to better indoor air quality during the use phase, and recycling and reusing the products at the end of their use.
- Collaborative Innovation: Partnering with suppliers and other industries to develop healthy alternatives to phthalate plasticizers, increase the use of recycled content, and develop a collection network (for example, Tarkett’s partnership in France with Veolia).
- Life-Cycle Impacts: Working with the scientific institute, Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency, to apply the Cradle to Cradle® principles and to evaluate alternative materials where possible.
- Extensive R&D and Industrial Program: Developing multi-disciplinary project teams (R&D, Manufacturing, Purchasing, Design, Marketing & Sales) to select and assess materials, adapt formulations and industrial process, maintain same level of performance and aestheticism/design capabilities, and educate sales team and customers.
As a result of its efforts engaging Cradle to Cradle® principles, Tarkett has achieved the following results:
- Assessed materials against environmental and human health criteria according to Cradle to Cradle® principles in collaboration with EPEA resulting in 80 percent of materials, or 2,535 ingredients, assessed. For vinyl flooring, more than 740 ingredients were assessed.
- Developed low-VOC products beyond standards required by regulations to improve indoor air quality. Vinyl flooring features VOC emission levels 10 to 100 times lower than strict standards globally. Companywide, 92 percent of flooring products have no or low VOC emissions (<100µg/m3).
- Deployed non-phthalate plasticizer technology in all of its vinyl factories in Europe and North America.
- Aims to incorporate recycled content into all of its products, leading to 67 percent of its materials sourced from abundant minerals, rapidly renewable sources, or recycled content. The company seeks to alleviate resource scarcity and, in 2015, it used 55,000 tons of recycled resources in its products. Specifically, some vinyl flooring products contain up to 54 percent recycled content. To accomplish this, Tarkett has eight recycling centers globally from which it collects material from its own production sites, installation surplus from job sites, post-used flooring, and other manufacturers.