BOLON INTERVIEW - Håkan Nordin

” Circularity for Bolon isn’t a breeze but a big wave”

Håkan Nordin is the chemist gone Greenpeace warrior gone one of Sweden’s first climate consultants. When he started talking about toxins and alien chemicals many companies didn’t think it concerned them. Cut to almost 40 years later when climate change forces us to make decisions and promises to work for a more sustainable future. When Håkan took office as head of sustainability at Bolon 2020, Bolon made a bold decision to reduce climate footprint by 50% and all the flooring we produce will be 50% circular by 2028.

- Bolon’s 2028 promise is a really exciting and extensive project with the purpose to fulfill our sustainability vision which is to offer the market high end design flooring that is a part of a circular material flow, safe for humans and nature and with zero climate impact. We take a strong position in fighting climate change and moving towards circularity by focusing on our products and our client offer. Our starting point is the flooring itself made to be very long-lasting which is in itself a strong sustainability quality. Then in matters of supply, production, and raw material the product is already very circular, an example is that we have for many years had our own recycling facility in house.

With this in mind, I want to stress that we wanted to make a promise for 2028 that would be something greater than just a goal for us to achieve, but to fulfill our sustainability vision and by that the greatest offer to the design industry, everyone that loves our flooring. This is only the beginning as always with Bolon, when we have a vision and set goals as a company and work hard together, we never create a breeze but big waves.

Why the year 2028?

- Good question. Over the years I have worked with many companies helping them set such goals and in my experience a good goal is a realistic one. In order to keep a promise, one needs to have just the right time to do so. If the promise is too short-termed, the changes you make will affect your business poorly, maybe even forcing you to change back to your old ways. And if the goal is too far away in the future, you simply will not do the work because it seems too far away. The 2028 promise is not about us making the simplest most business effective changes, quite on the contrary, the changes take time and capital, but we do it because we want to! We want to be in the forefront of the design business, make unprecedented changes and take the lead towards a better and more sustainable product.

How can PVC be sustainable?

- That was actually the first question I got when I began working at Bolon. How I, as a climate consultant, could work for Bolon who mainly produce with PVC. The answer however is very simple. Plastic, or PVC, now made without dangerous heavy metals since 20 years back, is a very durable and modern material. It’s also very resource effective. Plastic today is associated with trash and the pollution of our oceans and so on and of course there is no denying that. But the way Bolon works with material, the PVC plays a big part in the product being so durable and long-lasting which also is a big aspect for a product to become a sustainable choice. I would also like to add that PVC is one of the most climate friendly plastics, containing less oil than any other plastic and does not earn its bad reputation. Take natural materials for example, many of them are often considered more sustainable than PVC. But natural materials take a great deal of water and energy to become usable. And then when installed, a lot of perfectly fine materials go to waste and cannot be used again. The life of PVC is much more circular and one of our missions at Bolon is not to let any material at any time be wasted but used again in new flooring.

What is the biggest challenge for the design industry?

- I would say one of the largest challenges for the design industry is circularity. Of course this applies to fashion and many other industries too. To get the customer to work with the companies for circularity is key! That could however be a costly process both in terms of capital and for the environment. Take Bolon for example. We make these amazing, durable floors, which lasts for decades. But when the time comes for the customer to update their flooring, our dream would be to work with that client and turn their old flooring into new. We are working on an effective way to close that circle.

Read more and download the report here!

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