Investing in sustainability and the Carbon Trust Standard enhances brand value and drives innovation.
The Carbon Trust Standard has enabled Van Dyck Floors (a subsidiary of PFE International) to manage and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions effectively, recognise new business opportunities, challenge conventional wisdom, and un-tap new market spaces ripe for growth. There is no doubt that the operating environment of today is complex, uncertain, and ambiguous – modern businesses require sophisticated sustainability-based management. Van Dyck Floors is an organisation that has an extensive history in South Africa, having first opened its doors in 1948, manufacturing soft floor coverings in Durban. It has evolved over the years to a company manufacturing and distributing a diverse portfolio of flooring products, not only in South Africa but to different parts of the world.
The journey towards adapting the business model of Van Dyck Floors began in 2012, after implementing an environmental management system during 2011, as the company realised that the management system, while a step in the right direction, encouraged incrementalism in a consistently documented manner, something any organisation should avoid. A more far-reaching approach to adopt faster and deeper improvements was required.
At the time, Van Dyck recognised that climate change risks could significantly impact its operations in many dimensions such as resource scarcity. Disruptions in the supply chain would dramatically affect production processes. Van Dyck Floors began accounting for its greenhouse gas emissions in 2012, following the methodology prescribed in the Green House Gas Protocol. The level of detail extended beyond the certification needs of Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions and included many of the voluntary reporting requirements, such as employee and airline travel together with emissions associated with the transportation and distribution of Van Dyck’s goods throughout South Africa and beyond.
It was also imperative for Van Dyck Floors to associate itself with a leading independent certifier such as the Carbon Trust which was recognised both locally and internationally and that could provide a framework for Van Dyck Floors to enhance its operational sustainability as well as improve energy efficiency, at the same time as cutting costs. The insight offered by monitoring data provided Van Dyck Floors with a broad range of opportunities that could achieve carbon and energy savings in areas such as heating, cooling, lighting, and resource performance. This focus on energy conservation helped the company reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20.7% in absolute terms and 24.5% as a function of intensity during the period of 2012 to 2014.
The company is currently at the stage of its re-certification and it estimates that for the period of 2014 to 2016 a further 20% absolute reduction has been achieved. Regarding business growth, redesigning processes to meet environmental standards and certification requirements has resulted in new, exciting opportunities. Van Dyck Floors has successfully embedded sustainability into the manufacturing of its soft flooring and acoustic flooring. The carpet tiles manufactured at the Durban plant incorporate 40% recycled content into the backing of the product as a substitute for bitumen. The backing utilises fly ash or pulverised fuel ash, a by-product of coal combustion. The recently established sister company of Van Dyck, Mathe Group, is now the largest recycler of post-consumer and post-industrial truck tyres in southern Africa.
Legacy tyres are an environmental hazard that have blighted the landscape, landfill sites, and previously disadvantaged areas in South Africa for many years. The recycled rubber is used to manufacture a patented self-adhesive acoustic underlay at Van Dyck Floors, eliminating the need to use wet adhesives. The acoustic underlay is now exported to more than 30 countries worldwide and is favoured in cities where there are stringent legislative requirements to reduce noise pollution in high-rise buildings and offices. The newest business venture of the Mathe Group uses recycled truck tyres to manufacture outdoor paving mats for driveways and pavements.
We are moving to a world of scarce resources, a world in which companies will increasingly need to consider their total return, not just on assets and equity, but on resources and their efficient use. Van Dyck Floors is proud to be amongst the progressive companies tackling sustainability issues.