Efficient Environmental Choices

by Darren
Belgotex sustainability Jnl 4 15

A company with a diverse range of products that can proudly state that all their products are green.

The inaugural sustainability report from Belgotex Floors aims to ensure a greener tomorrow for all its stakeholders.

Although its growing ‘Eco collection’ of carpets, backings and underlays contributes to green design, Belgotex focuses primarily on resource efficiency and cleaner production as opposed to just producing a range of green materials.

Cognisant of the fact that floorcoverings (carpets) can have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of humans and the environment, Belgotex designs and develops floorcoverings within sustainable guidelines.

Certified according to ISO 14001 standards, the company produces a range of flooring products that satisfies criteria for GBCSA-Materials credits (EMS, recycled content, product stewardship), as well as for Indoor Environmental Quality credits.

Belgotex centres its operations on the three pillars of sustainability: environmental; social and economic. This is where the most significant gains in terms of sustainability are being made.

“At Belgotex, sustainability extends way beyond mere environmental management and traditional recycling,” comments Kevin Walsh, Belgotex’s Chief Operations Officer (COO).

Under his watchful guard, Belgotex developed a policy that addresses resource efficiency and cleaner production against environmental imperatives and product responsibility. “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 continual investment in new technology to enhance existing products and develop new ones. These upgrades have reduced energy and/or raw material consumption, without the loss of productivity or quality.

Raw Materials
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 is constantly seeking out new, more sustainable inputs and is committed to innovation within its product lines and manufacturing processes. Belgotex strives to increase recycled content in 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. Bestselling Berber Point 920 and other needlepunch ranges are produced with a blend of polypropylene and recycled eco-fibre.

This eco-fibre is manufactured using post-production waste, which is re-pelletised (using 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 contains up to 70% post-industrial waste (fly ash) used as a filler in the backing.

Carbon Management
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 sixth year of quantifying its carbon footprint, Belgotex is pleased to announce a 16% reduction therein, due to the integrated carbon management systems implemented.

Energy Management
Belgotex incorporated a resource efficiency and cleaner production strategy that has seen the implementation of numerous initiatives resulting 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 1 386 tons per annum. A further 5% reduction target is anticipated with the possible installation of another 1MW solar plant.

Water conservation
A comprehensive water management system was implemented, reducing the factory’s water consumption by about 45% since 2009. A rainwater-harvesting initiative is currently being rolled out, for completion during the year. Many other water-saving initiatives, such as 100% solution-dyed yarn production, have resulted in significant water, chemical and energy savings.

Waste management
Waste minimisation programmes form part of Belgotex’s EMS (ISO 14001). In line with the well-known 3 R’s of waste management – Reduce, Re-use and Recycle – Belgotex seeks to reduce inputs (for energy/resources), re-use materials and recycle waste from its operations wherever possible.

1.    Reduce
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.

2.    Re-use
Belgotex’s Flooring Reclamation programme collects used or uplifted carpets from central collection points to be cleaned and sent to NGOs 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.

3.    Recycle
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 waste rates from 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 VOC emissions and meet the strict requirements for the Green Building Council’s indoor environmental quality.

This is why Belgotex firmly states that its clients can rest assured in the knowledge that whichever floor they select from its diverse range, it will always be green.

For more information: www.belgotexfloors.co.za
Pietermaritzburg (033) 897-7500 or Cape Town (021) 763-6900 or JHB (011) 380-9300
Facebook: www.facebook.com/belgotex
Twitter: @belgotex

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