Sustainability integral to a successful business model

by Ofentse Sefolo
Sustainability integral to a successful business model

Belgotex Floors embarked on a “Green Journey” in 1991 and has to date uncovered pertinent sustainability priorities and seen the implementation of various systems to address key environmental issues. The journey has taken the company to new heights, bringing sustainable solutions to the core of the company’s operational practices.

Although there is great emphasis on producing “eco-friendly” flooring solutions that contribute significantly to green design, Belgotex’s focus is more on resource efficiency and cleaner production. As such, the company has developed an environmental policy that addresses resource efficiency and cleaner production against environmental imperatives and product responsibility.

Says Kevin Walsh, Chief Operations Officer at Belgotex Floors: “For us, ‘green’ makes good business sense and extends way beyond mere ‘green sensationalism’. It’s such an intrinsic part of our DNA, that it helps us maintain our competitive advantage.

“Our main goal is to operate a green factory wherever economically and environmentally feasible.” The well-being of people and the environment is at the forefront of Belgotex’s operational practices and it is with this in mind that the company designs and develops their products 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 pass the stringent health and eco-toxicity assessments and can be recycled at the end of their aesthetic life
• Using recycled content whenever it is both economically and environmentally feasible
Some of the strategic operational sustainability considerations that have been uncovered during the ongoing “Green Journey” include the use of raw materials, energy, carbon and waste management, water conservation and air quality.

The raw materials for a number of Belgotex’s eco-products are derived from post-industrial and post-consumer waste, for instance, some of the company’s needle punch ranges, which are made with a blend of polypropylene and recycled eco-fibre. Eco-fibre is manufactured using post-production waste. “The input of this recycled content in our production process considerably lowers the embodied energy associated with virgin raw material use,” said Walsh.

Greenhouse gas emissions are another major consideration, since the majority of Belgotex’s manufacturing processes are driven by fossil fuels. Currently in its 8th year of quantifying its carbon footprint, the company has seen a significant reduction in their carbon footprint because of the integrated carbon management systems implemented.

Belgotex’s resource efficiency and cleaner production strategy has resulted in the reduction of non-renewable energy consumption. In an effort to move towards more sustainable energy sources and alleviate reliance on the national energy utility, numerous energy optimisation initiatives were implemented, amongst others, the R17 million roof-mounted photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant that provides about 5% of the company’s annual energy requirements.

The Rainwater Harvesting initiative (RWH) uses rainwater from the factory’s roofs in non-critical applications, considerably reducing water consumption and reducing operational costs. The company’s move to 100% solution dyed yarn production has also resulted in significant water, chemical and energy savings.

Belgotex was recently awarded 6 stars by the Green Building Council of South Africa in South Africa’s first custom Green Star SA – Existing Building Performance rating for an industrial facility. The 6 star rating recognises the company’s sustainability practices in all aspects of their plant and carpet manufacturing processes.

The company is also GreenTag certified. The Global GreenTag Certification is an esteemed, globally recognised mark that indicates a products’ relative performance across its sustainability criteria.

For more information, contact Belgotex Floors on +27 (33) 897 7500 or via www.belgotexfloors.co.za.

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