This article is an outtake from Projects We Love 2015
With its new recycling facility in Ulricehamn, Bolon makes sure discarded flooring gets a whole new life. In modern-day business, having a sustainable outlook is no longer a choice but a necessity. Customers increasingly look at a company’s environmental credibility and choose products accordingly.
“For Bolon, sustainability is part of our DNA,” says Malin Andén, Quality and Enviromental Manager. “That’s where it all started, when the founder Nils-Erik Eklund recycled scraps of materials and turned them into rag rugs. We’re still challenging ourselves, staying one step ahead of legislation – not because we have to, but because we think it is so important. And we don’t stop there. We want to raise the bar for both collaborators and competitors, so that everybody works towards a more sustainable world.”
Maybe it’s the company’s location in the lush and scenic landscape of Västergötland, next to the Åsunden lake, that is rubbing off on Bolon’s green thinking; the company is keeping the manufacturing in Sweden as this makes sense both in terms of shorter trans- ports and logistics, but also allows full control of the production process; the PVC flooring is phthalate free; and the factory, warehouse and offices are cooled by geothermal means, using locally drawn groundwater rather than refrig- erants that damage the ozone layer.
“We care deeply about sustainability in all levels of the company – in the environment we live and work in, in the manufacturing process, from a management perspective and also how our staff feels about it,” says Malin Andén. “It’s like a chain where every link plays an equally important role.”
The new collection Flow is Bolon’s first recycled flooring, and is a product of the company’s latest initiative, the recycling plant located in the Ulricehamn factory. Bolon has invested SEK 90 million in the process that grinds and modifies old bits of flooring into granules that can then be bound and reshaped into a new material, starting the cycle over. The plant will also have an impact that stretches outside the company itself.
“We have plans in the pipeline to accept waste products from other manufacturers, but that is a very step-by-step procedure,” says Torbjörn Klaesson, Chief Supply Chain and Technical Officer. “We will be ready to accept cut-offs and leftover flooring from our European distri- butors as well, so our vision is that in future we’ll be able to reclaim our floors and turn them into new ones.”
Getting rid of dangerous substances and recycling materials demand both time and financial commitment, but Bolon also prides itself on smaller but equally important actions that help the environment, whether that is using clean energy or filtering out particles in the factory air. Malin Andén concludes: “The well-being of our colleagues, being an ethical company and practicing what we preach is what matters to us – both now and in days to come.”
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