According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the definition of sustainability calls for “policies and strategies that meet society’s present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
While every area of the industry has made vast strides in making itself and its products more sustainable, perhaps no category has done more than carpet. From fiber makers down to the individual family business, stories of making carpet sustainable abound—from landfill diversion and using less natural resources to closed loop recycling and finding new industries that can reuse all or part of post-consumer carpet.
As representatives gather in New Mexico for the 8th annual conference of the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), FCNews spoke with some of the largest players—both mill and dealer/ contractor—and asked them to share recent stories as to how they are helping to make carpet more sustainable.
Beaulieu of America
Steve Bradfield, vice president of sustainability, took a big picture point of view by reflecting on the hiring of Ralph Boe as president and CEO nine years ago (FCNews, April 30/May 7, 2001) as a major milestone and turning point for the company.
When it comes to its product and manufacturing processes, Bradfield said Beaulieu’s sustainability gains are a result of Boe’s commitment “to lower the company’s environmental footprint through focused conservation, efficiency and innovation programs” that differentiate Beaulieu from its competitors. Innovations under his watch, he explained, “have made significant improvements in sustainability, saving millions of gallons of water, vastly improving energy efficiency, and preventing tons of solid waste production through our ‘War on Waste,’ program.”
Bradfield pointed to some recent product examples that underscore Beaulieu’s sustainable story, such as Nexterra Carpet Tile, made with 53% post-consumer waste, including post-consumer PET bottles; Avalar SDX nylon with 25% recycled content; GreenSmart BCF polyester with 50% post-consumer recycled content; nontoxic Magic Fresh treatment that significantly reduces odors, and Silver Release, which discourages microbial growth.
Beaulieu Group includes polymerization, fiber extrusion, yarn production and carpet production operations. “Our philosophy of sustainability focuses on the development of culture, systems and best practices that continuously reduce our impacts on the environment and seek to conserve raw materials, resources and energy in ways that will allow future generations to enjoy the same, or a better, standard of living than we enjoy today.”
As final proof to the company’s commitment, Bradfield pointed out that earlier this year Boe created a sustainability area headed by an experienced team to increase Beaulieu’s focus. “We seek a future environment that is cleaner and healthier through intelligent human design and activity in each successive generation resulting from increasing levels of investment in appropriate technologies and continuous innovation.”