With Cradle to Cradle NGO, Arnaud talked about the benefits of events like the C2C Congress and the upcoming plans of Tarkett regarding C2C and sustainability. You can watch the Interview on YouTube or read it here as a transcript.
Could you describe why the C2C Congress and its content is important?
The Cradle to Cradle Congress is important because we need to bring people from different areas together: Entrepreneurs, people in companies but also politicians and NGOs. We need to talk about the big topics which are how to manage resources and reduce the use of resources, how to reduce the carbon footprint and how to make sure that the products we develop are healthy for people. I believe this congress is a great opportunity to share knowledge, talk about the roadblocks we have, move forward, and make sure that everybody understands how big these challenges are. So, for me, this congress is important to share knowledge, learn and develop cooperation.
Do you register more awareness in your industry for the importance of closed loops and circular economy design?
We started to use Cradle to Cradle methodology roughly ten to twelve years ago. In the beginning, we were part of a few companies using this concept. We were looking for a science-led methodology to make sure that when we produce and select raw materials, those raw materials would be the right ones for the future to recycle and they would have no impact on health. We did this in a proactive way. Respecting the regulations is mandatory but the objective was to think about the next step. We make products that last ten years minimum, very often even twenty or thirty years. It is very important that a company like Tarkett is proactive and thinks about the next steps.
At that time, the demand from our customers was really small. But then we saw a change step-by-step because we were able to explain, in a structured way, the benefit of sharing the content of our products with them. We have taken a bold decision, for instance, to stop using phthalate in our products. And this step, plus the work realized by Cradle to Cradle NGO, has improved the knowledge about this methodology. Today, if we look at what we have done: we have more than 20 different certified products, but we have also scanned more than 5000 of our raw materials. It is important to make sure with the Cradle to Cradle methodology that the raw materials that we select to manufacture our products fit future needs. And we see that this is really well perceived by our customers. That is very good for us and a strong sign that Cradle to Cradle knowledge, structure, and methodology are being developed right now.
Would you say that some of your customers choose you because of C2C as a sustainable standard?
What we can see is that most of the time customers select us because they understand that with Cradle to Cradle methodology we have been able to develop the right product. They understand what it means to be Cradle to Cradle Gold and they understand this value for them. But we don’t have that many examples where customers are saying that within the purchase criteria – that are quality and price – they want us to be Cradle to Cradle Gold. But they do talk more and more about it, so I don’t know if in the future they will select with this kind of criteria. But they definitely understand the value of using Cradle to Cradle methodology.
What can we expect from Tarkett regarding C2C in the coming years?
The first thing is that we have set an ambitious target for 2030, both in terms of circular economy and in terms of greenhouse gas reductions. As far as greenhouse gas reductions, the objective is to reduce it by 30 percent compared to 2020. That will mean at the end roughly 60 and 57 percent reduction since 2010, which, I would say, is in good alignment with the Paris agreement regarding the carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. Now in terms of circular economy, the objective is to work on recycling to increase the recycled content in our product. Today, we have 13 percent of recycled material in our products on average. Some products have more than 50 percent, like carpets, but others have less than 13 percent. The objective is to reach 30 percent by 2030. It’s very ambitious because to be able to achieve that, we need to redesign most of our products. It’s not only about adding a little bit here and there, it’s a transformation of our product mix. It’s also a transformation of our business model because we need to find recycled material to put into our product. We have a specific innovation program and we are working on what we are calling an “open loop”. So we go to other industries where we find recycled metal waste. That’s what we do with PVB, with calcium carbonate for instance. We also work on what we are calling “to close the loop”. That means working with our customers to reuse products at the end of their life. So, when we renovate a building, renovate a floor, today this floor is going to a landfill or to incineration which is a waste. Because, and this is the beauty of our materials, it can be recycled.
So, we are working with our partners, with our customers and with new stakeholders to bring these materials back into our company. We are developing technologies to separate the glue and the concrete that very often come with the floor. We also have to pay attention to what we are calling “the legacy chemicals”. Our products are meant to last, so when we recycle these floors today, they were installed 20 or 30 years ago. We have to make sure there is no legacy and chemicals that we cannot use today. This is something really ambitious. We need to succeed in this closed loop to restart and bring back the product at the end of its life. That’s what we are working on.
Additionally, we need to cooperate. Partnership is key here because we cannot succeed alone.
A third point is about the carbon footprint. When thinking about the carbon footprint, most companies today think about – and now I’m talking about some words that maybe only experts will understand – but we call them scope one, two, and three. Most companies are focusing on scope one and two, as we have been doing, which is the greenhouse gas coming from the energy that we consume in our factory. That is what we have been reducing. This is what we want to keep reducing, but we have to work on scope three as well. Scope three is the whole value chain and to be able to reduce the carbon footprint on scope three we need to work with our suppliers. We need to work with our customers and we need to work with external experts because here we are really talking about the total transformation of the product that we make. So, everything that I’ve been talking about regarding the circular economy is a very strong lever to succeed in doing that. We also need support from politicians because they need to influence and change the regulation to force this change, to highlight that this is important to succeed at the end of the day and achieve this objective of carbon neutrality in our society.
So, that’s what we are working on. We already have good examples of products that have a much lower carbon footprint, that can be recycled and separated with different layers, where we recycled the yarns of the carpet but also the packaging. So, me and our teams are demonstrating every day that it is possible. But the large remains to be known and that’s what is very interesting.