Belgotex Floors’ recently released their Sustainability Report detailing their ongoing ‘Green Journey’ to ensure a greener tomorrow for all its stakeholders.
Although their growing “Eco collection” of carpets, backings and underlays contributes towards green design, Belgotex’s focus is more on resource efficiency and cleaner production than just producing a range of green materials.
Belgotex is cognisant of the fact that floorcoverings (carpets) can have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of humans and the environment and therefore it designs and develops floorcoverings under the following sustainable guidelines:
- Extending the life of an existing product through responsible manufacturing techniques and processes.
- Developing products that can be reworked in their existing form.
- Using raw materials that can be recycled at the end of their useful aesthetic life.
- Using recycled content whenever it is both economically and environmentally feasible.
Certified to ISO14001 standards, the company produces a range of flooring products that satisfy criteria for both GBCSA- Materials credits [EMS, recycled content, and
product stewardship], as well as for Indoor Environment Quality credits [by meeting the strict requirements for volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.] In their continued efforts to improve their production processes and products Belgotex centres its operations based on the 3 pillars of sustainability (environmental, social and economic) and it is here where the greatest gains in terms of sustainability are being made.
“At Belgotex, sustainability extends way beyond mere environmental management and traditional recycling,” comments Kevin Walsh, Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Belgotex.
“Our main goal is to operate a green factory wherever economically and environmentally feasible,” he explains.
Careful examination of their operations identified the use of raw materials, energy management, carbon management, water management and air quality as having significant considerations.
Analysis of the use of natural resources in their manufacturing operations, as well as the energy used for that production results in continuous investment in new technology to enhance existing products and develop new ones. These upgrades have reduced energy and/or raw material consumption, without any loss of productivity or quality.
A number of key inputs to Belgotex’s products are derived from non-renewable fossil fuel products. To minimise the risks posed by raw material depletion and climate change, Belgotex are constantly seeking out new, more sustainable inputs and are committed to innovation within its product lines and manufacturing processes. Belgotex continues to strive to increase recycled content within its product range by implementing innovative raw material input strategies.
The raw materials for various “green” eco-products are derived from post-industrial and post-consumer waste such as Green underlay, Sportec Color rubber flooring and Grimebuster walk-off mats. The bestselling Berber Point 920 and other needlepunch ranges are made with a blend of polypropylene and recycled Eco Fibre. This Eco-fibre is manufactured using post production waste, which is re-pelletized(utilising the cutting edge Erema recycling machinery). The input of this recycled content in their production process considerably lowers the embodied energy associated with virgin raw material use. Nexbac Eco modular tile backing, contain up to 70% post-industrial waste (fly-ash) used as a filler in the backing.
Apart from the raw material supply, energy and water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions are another major consideration, since the majority of Belgotex’s manufacturing processes are driven by fossil fuels. In an attempt to manage this risk and a potential carbon tax liability, Belgotex aims to positively manage this risk by tracking and mitigating its effects on the environment. In its 6th year of quantifying its carbon footprint, Belgotex is pleased to announce a ~ 16% reduction in its carbon footprint, due to the integrated carbon management systems implemented.
Belgotex incorporated a resource efficiency and cleaner production strategy that has seen the implementation of numerous initiatives that has resulted in the reduction of energy consumption by ~12%. This was achieved by amongst others, the R17 million roof-mounted solar plant that offset ~2.5% of carbon emissions, reducing them by 1386 tons per annum. A further 5% reduction target is anticipated with the possible installation of another 1MW solar plant.
A comprehensive water management system was implemented, reducing the factory’s water consumption by about 45% since 2009. A rain water harvesting initiative is currently being rolled out, for completion during the year. Many other water saving initiatives such as 100% solution dyed yarn production has resulted in a significant water, chemical and energy savings
Waste minimisation programmes form part of our EMS (ISO14001). Waste is monitored and measured continuously to ensure progress targets are met.
In line with the well-known 3R’s of waste management – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – Belgotex seek to reduce inputs (for energy/resources), reuse materials and recycle waste from its operations wherever possible.
Stackable, mobile metal crates have replaced cardboard boxes or packaging of any kind in their yarn processing operations, reducing the amount of packaging to be recycled or sent to landfills. Bulk storage silos and stretch wrap are used wherever possible to eliminate the need for raw material packaging.
Belgotex’s Flooring Reclamation programme collects used or uplifted carpets from central collections points to be cleaned and sent to NGO’s such as KZN Wildlands for re-use and redistribution to impoverished communities in their “Green-preneur” project. Acquisition of innovative bit-winders has seen the elimination of a complete stream of waste by creating grade 1 yarn from waste creel-ends.
The acquisition of a new R5-million Erema machine enables the company to recycle production waste back into Eco fibre which is used in the production of standard ranges. Effectively reducing their waste rates from their carpet production processes to close to zero, the Erema machine offers up to 20% energy savings, resulting in lower production costs and reduced CO2 emissions.
Indoor Air Quality
Belgotex carpets and underlays have been tested and contain no harmful volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions and meet the strict requirements for the Green Building Council’s indoor environmental quality.
Rest assured, whatever floor you choose from Belgotex Floors, it will always be green.
Book your seat now to attend the Green Business Seminar at Sustainability Week on 25 June
Follow Alive2Green on Social Media
Is sustainability reporting sustainable?
There are some that think it is. The practice is now more widespread than ever before, and legislation in different parts of the world is supporting increased non-financial disclosure. This would indicate that reporting is here to stay.
On the other hand, there are some that think it isn’t. There are those who subordinate sustainability reporting to the new financial reporting trend called integrated reporting, while others advocate online interactive disclosures instead of reports.
As we move into 2015 and face another year of corporate efforts to improve impacts, manage risk and engage with the new opportunities that sustainability brings, amid a flurry of surveys and reports that support the case for or against sustainability reporting, what can companies do to embed reporting practice in a sustainable manner? In addition to the predictable list of things we already know — focus, clarity, materiality, relevance, balance, frameworks, etc. — here are some more creative approaches that companies might like to consider.
Excite your board of directors about reporting
Reporting has often been considered an add-on, a project for the corporate social responsibility (CSR)manager, something that exists alongside the “real” reporting processes. Sustainability reporting has not really hooked the attention of the highest level of leadership and, in most cases, does not find its way onto the board agenda.
In order to make reporting more sustainable, directors must be excited about sustainability reporting. They must see it as an advantage, a benefit, a value-adding activity — and not something they tolerate.
Let’s be honest, how many company directors actually read the sustainability reports of the companies they are engaged to be accountable for? How many directors are actually consulted in the process of preparing the report? As key stakeholders, company directors surely deserve some acknowledgement, recognition and even voice in the annual sustainability report.
In order to excite your board of directors, engage them in the reporting process and have them approve the output, here are some things you can do:
- Empower your board members. This can be done, for example, through board workshops to build awareness, knowledge and engagement around relevant issues for each company. In 2014, the United Nations Global Compact launched an interesting Board Program to help align the board on sustainability matters and help directors demonstrate leadership on board adoption of sustainability principles. As board members engage in deep consideration of sustainability issues, they become empowered to embrace leadership and guide the company along the sustainability journey. This program looks like a good start, but it must result in something more than discussion in order to truly deliver change. Therefore, after education, comes action.
- Engage company directors in the reporting process. Help your board of directors own your sustainability report by asking them to contribute. Interview them individually or as a group, and include their pictures and their commentaries in the sustainability report. Stakeholders will be gratified by evidence of greater board commitment, and board members will be energized by their own involvement and declaration of what is important to them. Involving them may also help reinforce their accountability for the sustainability report and its contents. This kind of involvement is positive, but it is not enough. Involvement must be formalized.
- Establish and publish a formal board policy for sustainability reporting. This should describe board accountability for sustainability reporting. The policy should define board actions prior to report publication, including a board discussion and concurrence of the report content and agreement to publish. Following the report publication, the policy could require the board to conduct a review of whether the report has met its objectives and agree on new objectives for the next reporting cycle.
Make your reporting process cool
I maintain that sustainability reporting as a process is incredibly cool. The right process empowers people, challenges people, gets people listening to one another, sometimes even talking to one another, occasionally even agreeing with one another. This applies to both employees as well as external partners, organizations, suppliers, local authorities and consumers.
Rather than inviting people to a meeting about the sustainability report (yaaaaaaawn!), there are many ways you can involve people in activities that both interest and engage them, while at the same time, getting the information you need for your report. This includes competitions (send us a video of how your job contributes to improving the environment) or prizes (weekend for two for the first complete set of sustainability reporting information sent back to corporate) or ice cream meetings (roundtable discussions with internal and/or external stakeholders on sustainability issues, where the meeting leader brings [lots of] ice cream for consumption during the meeting). There are a million ways to make the reporting process fun, even if, at some point, there is a certain amount of actual hard work to be done.
Engage your employees around the published report
So, many reports go unnoticed by the very employees whose hard work made the report possible. That means all the employees in the company.
The minute the report is published is the signal to start the work of engaging employees around the report. Rather than just broadcasting an email announcement — we published our report (yaaaaaaawn!) — there are many ways to get your employees to sit up and take notice.
This may include quizzes with prizes (Who is quoted on page 34 of our last report? By how much did our GHG emissions reduce last year?), games (How far can you throw our sustainability report?) and feedback (cross-functional discussion groups — can be Web-meetings — each focusing on a single section of the report and analyzing the content together, with recommendations for the next report). You might even involve your employees’ children in preparing a poster about how your company makes a positive contribution to the world — requiring employees to explain the essence of the report messages to their kids. Prizes, of course, for the best contributions.
Each company can find its own way to be creative in developing an engagement process which both informs and interests employees. You might find employees actually enjoy reading the report and discover things about the company — and their colleagues — that they didn’t know. More importantly, they will be able to talk to stakeholders about the issues that matter in an informed way.
Drive your reporting throughout the supply chain
How many companies ask their suppliers to contribute to their reporting and engage suppliers once the report is published? More and more, the report of one company is both the start-point and the endpoint of the reports of other companies.
I am not aware of anyone trying to track a product through all the sustainability reports of the companies involved in producing it from raw materials to end-of-life — that could be an interesting exercise. However, suppliers are big enablers of any business, and their influence on the direct impacts of an organization may be quite significant.
Perhaps suppliers should have a bigger place in sustainability reports — strategic suppliers can contribute data, case studies and specialist perspectives — and may be grateful for the recognition their customers’ reporting offers them, thereby reinforcing the relationship with them. Once the report is published, reverting to suppliers, emphasizing the key messages, acknowledging their role and encouraging them to adopt sustainable practices in their own businesses is a critical step in maintaining the reporting momentum.
It’s so easy to criticize reports. It’s so easy to say that reports are full of irrelevant information. It’s so easy to dismiss reporting as some sort of activity that apparently everyone has been duped into doing for the wrong reasons and producing the wrong results. It’s much harder to stand up for reporting and talk about what it really is: a business process that adds value, engages people and empowers employees.
The folks that lead reporting in organizations have to address not only the hard work of reporting — and it is hard work — but they also have to overcome these notions that are bandied around saying reporting is worthless.
Reporting leaders in organizations should be celebrated. They have one of the hardest jobs around. Reporters play a critical role in helping organizations move forward sustainably and help shape the future of business. I have often said that reporting is a catalyst for performance, and great reporters know how to use the reporting process to drive change. Make sure the reporting leader in your organization gets the respect s/he deserves, has the resources s/he needs and gains the attention of management as and when needed. Ringfence your reporter and ensure s/he has enough ice cream to last through the entire reporting cycle.
Good luck to all companies starting reporting cycles about now. Let me know how you got on with this list!
Source: Triple Pundit
Book your seat here.
Join the discussion here.
Follow Alive2Green on Social Media