Recycled Interiors Podcast 0016: Healthy & Sustainable Carpets

Today we are talking about healthy and sustainable carpets with Chris Timberlake from ec carpets. Chris is a manufacturing professional, qualified accountant, artist and creative thinker. He is also a passionate supporter of Australian manufacturing. He believes the quality and sustainability delivered through innovative Australian made products far outweighs any perceived cost advantages of off-shore production. (And in many cases, it can be shown that there is no cost advantage anyway.)

Please head to iTunes to subscribe and leave us a review if you love the show as it helps us to get it out there and make a difference. You can also listen on Stitcher and leave a review over there, or just sit back and listen on the blog. Thank you for being here.

Chris has worked in manufacturing for over 20 years, undertaking process improvement roles in finance, systems, operations and management. Creative thinking and dedication to quality, sustainability, safety and innovation are what drives him. He is the General Manager of EC Australia Group, a family owned manufacturer of carpet based in Adelaide. EC Group’s commitment to sustainability includes use of renewable raw materials, 95{5baa604ca7ba54356663ac818e2540f5a63eb80840e8fce1c1738a88d2e39fef} waste recycling, use of Econyl recycled yarns by Aquafil Spa, all low VOC products and avoidance of harmful chemicals used in production.

Chris has a life long commitment to environmental sustainability. Working in manufacturing from a financial perspective, he sees a focus on sustainability and waste as a financial consideration, not “greenwashing”. This focus from young manufacturing managers is what is driving modern Australian manufacturing to success, and what will leave a long lasting wealth and clean environment for future generations.

 

Sustainability for EC is about minimising and managing waste, using recycled materials where possible and ensuring that their products last longer than the average in their category – reducing replacement costs.

In practice, they recycle over 95{5baa604ca7ba54356663ac818e2540f5a63eb80840e8fce1c1738a88d2e39fef} of their waste from the factory, run an impressively low waste rate, use recycled raw materials in a large number of products and produce a standard of product well above the industry average.

All their carpets have low waste rates, low VOC’s, long useful life and usage of no harmful chemicals in the manufacturing process. Local manufacture also reduces the carbon footprint.

  • Wool ranges are made from fibres that regenerate naturally so are very “green”.
  • Nylon and Polypropylene ranges are all 100{5baa604ca7ba54356663ac818e2540f5a63eb80840e8fce1c1738a88d2e39fef} recyclable.
  • Carpet tiles are backed with a felt made from recycled PET bottles.
  • Econyl ranges are also made from recycled nylon, up to 100{5baa604ca7ba54356663ac818e2540f5a63eb80840e8fce1c1738a88d2e39fef}.

Ec.group offers a range of broadloom carpets and carpet tiles with ECONYL® Bulk Continuous Filament (BCF) Nylon, made from ocean-and-landfill-harvested waste plastics under an ISO 14000-certified environmental management system. Producing 10K tonnes ECONYL® Caprolactam (the precursor to Nylon 6 used in BCF) eliminates 11K tonnes plastic waste, saves 70K barrels crude oil and avoids 40K tonnes CO2.

The water, material and energy efficiency is further enhanced by its long product life – graded extra-heavy-duty commercial, it outlasts all other carpet types. With anti-stain and soil repellent treatments, it also requires only minimal washing. And when the carpet does reach the end of its life, it’s 100{5baa604ca7ba54356663ac818e2540f5a63eb80840e8fce1c1738a88d2e39fef} recyclable. They even re-collect it themseves!

More Info:
http://www.ec-group.com.au/images/ECONYL_Storytelling.pdf

There are a lot of nuggets in this podcast episode, both about healthy carpets, and sustainable manufacturing. Sit back and enjoy the episode!

ec-carpets-2

 Things you will want to remember from the show

  • EC Carpets are a family owned small manufacturer based in Adelaide, operating for over 55 years with the same family since starting. They create domestic and commercial carpets and have done so since the 1980’s
  • They have kept older equipment which has forced them to think about how they create products that are less harmful, and make the products last longer – this makes a carpet that will last a very long time
  • The modern way of backing carpet uses a glue that has lots of chalk in it. The older style carpets have a high latex component that make them last longer
  • The older equipment also has a lower labour cost, they make less carpets per day but being a smaller mill with a focus on quality over quantity, they can afford to do that
  • Primarily they do residential spaces as most commercial carpets have gone to carpet tiles which are often backed with toxic backings and are bad for the environment and EC did not go down that line
  • Econyl Recycled Yarn system was developed in Italy where they go around the world collecting fishing nets and industrial waste and reprocess for textiles and carpets in particular. EC have developed 2 or 3 ranges from this material and also send back their bales of waste to the company in Italy for recycling
  • All carpet makers love working with wool – you can get rich textures and natural tones – they are always more beautiful and better for our health
  • Wool is dyed and chemically processed to protect it from carpet beetles! Most of the offgassing in carpet comes from the backing materials and the glues used, not the wool
  • Look for Australian made primarily as the glues used don’t include a formaldehyde precursor and are tested for low VOC’s. It is the natural smells of the wool and latex that you often notice
  • The Carpet Institute has an environmental accreditation system and most Australian carpet makers will meet these standards by default – so go for Aussie made and quality carpets
  • Manufacturing history in Australia was to look at the base product rather than the life cycle of things. Modern consumers purchase from the value perspective, not just the cost of something
  • Waste levels can be 10 – 15{5baa604ca7ba54356663ac818e2540f5a63eb80840e8fce1c1738a88d2e39fef} in manufacturing, and with modern automation labour costs are less of an issue, with reducing waste being a more cost efficient and profitable approach for manufacturers, as well as being better for the environment
  • At EC all waste streams are separated and sent off for recycling, which has boosted morale in the factory, as well as redeucing waste management costs significantly
  • This includes sourcing materials that have recyclable packaging, and anything that can be sent for high value recycling is separated and sent to the right place – for example gathering nylon waste products to go back to Italy to be made back into yarn
  • Each of these steps are built into the process which brings about a real focus on quality and waste management
  • There is change in the system, even in more mainstream retail stores such as supermarkets – people are wanting to know the story behind products and where they have come from with a preference for local products
  • You can purchase EC Carpets at most carpet retail stores – check their website for what products they offer, some are branded with their name but not always. They will also send a free sample which you can then take to a carpet retailer and ask them to get the carpet in for them
  • Solution Dyed Nylons – you will see some of the Econyl Recycled Yarns under this range – check them online. They are hoping to build more of the recycled products into their retail ranges over the next few years
  • They also import some carpet tiles – made by a family in Thailand, used in commercial environments, which are the most environmentally friendly carpet tiles in the world. Using recycled nylon, with a felt on the backing made from recycled drink bottles. This makes a carpet tile that can breathe and absorb sounds. Often used in places like schools as they are comfortable, low VOC and breathable
  • Chris recommends however that wool is the best option for floors in schools – the benefits for the environment that the child is working in are much better
  • Carpet care for pure wool –
    • A good wool carpet should last for at least 10 years and be more beautiful and warmer
    • The vacuum cleaner is very imortant
    • A lot of modern vacuum cleaners can damage a loop pile wool carpet – you need a soft brush, not wire, many vacuum stores will not know this
    • Vacuum twice a week to avoid carpet beetles, treat stains carefully and quickly, with a wool mix spot cleaner and do this every few months
  • Be careful of “greenwash” out there in carpets – eg products saying they use “sustainable fibres” or are made from “corn starch” or have “5{5baa604ca7ba54356663ac818e2540f5a63eb80840e8fce1c1738a88d2e39fef} sugar” added, may not be as green as you think.  There are many manufacturing processes involved in creating these products, that are bad for the environment
  • Nylon made from recycled polymer is actually a better choice than those green labeled fibres but a wool carpet is the best choice in carpets – look for high quality, Australian made wherever possible

ecmasterseries_greatsandy-home Links

www.ec-group.com.au

http://www.ec-group.com.au/ecycle.html

Econyl Broadloom Carpet Ranges:
Serenus: http://www.ec-group.com.au/products/solution-dyed-nylon-carpets/serenus.html
Panorama: http://www.ec-group.com.au/products/solution-dyed-nylon-carpets/panorama.html
Accentus (40{5baa604ca7ba54356663ac818e2540f5a63eb80840e8fce1c1738a88d2e39fef} recycled): http://www.ec-group.com.au/products/solution-dyed-nylon-carpets/accentus.html

Wilderness Carpet Tile Collection
http://www.ec-group.com.au/products/carpet-tiles.html
Bark, Branch, Leaf, Palette, Stem, Stick, Tree

customercare@ec-group.com.au

Please head to iTunes to subscribe and leave us a review if you love the show as it helps us to get it out there and make a difference. You can also listen on Stitcher and leave a review over there, or just sit back and listen on the blog. Thank you for being here.

Helen xx

 

2 Comments

  1. Star Hardware Corp on November 14, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Recycling is really a great idea and recycled carpets with 95% waste recycling are something amazing. These carpets look like normal carpets and add more beauty to our home floors. Thanks for sharing the article.

    • Helen Edwards on November 17, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      thanks for your feedback – there are now so many ways to create a beautiful home that is healthier for all of us!

Leave a Comment