Inspired by Tarkett’s playful and principled flooring, Design Anthology UK presents a story featuring its circular-designed products, alongside responsible fashion and ethical beauty brands that know how to do good, too
Florian Bougault, the European design director of Tarkett, explains how circular design and cradle-to-cradle principles help the flooring company tread lightly on the planet
DESIGN ANTHOLOGY UK: Let’s start with the basics. When Tarkett says it makes circular flooring, what does that actually mean?
FLORIAN BOUGAULT: We believe that there is an urgent need to move away from a take-make-dispose model, towards a circular economy in which products can be recycled to create new products at the end of their use. Circular flooring means that we have a process in place for taking back old and used floors, and that we have the technology to recycle them into new flooring.
Tarkett’s long-term vision is for all of our flooring to be recyclable and recycled. By being able to recycle a product at the end of its use, we see tremendous benefits for the planet, such as a reduced carbon footprint, reduced need for landfill and reduced need for virgin materials.
DA: What principles are at the heart of your manifesto? What motivates you as a brand?
FB: As an organisation, we are committed to building a future that is suitable for both people and planet. We believe that we can do so by reducing our own carbon footprint and creating a circular economy supported by Cradle to Cradle principles; exceeding indoor air quality standards; and instituting healthy material norms with floors that are 100% phthalate-free.
DA: What have been some of the flagship projects using your circular products?
FB: To support architects and designers to specify truly sustainable products, we have recently launched our Circular Selection, a portfolio of products that are 100% recyclable post-use and completely phthalate-free. Recent projects completed with products from the Circular Selection include the new Tarkett Atelje, our showroom in Stockholm designed by Note Design Studio; Architectural Digest’s offices in Madrid; and Douglas House, one of The Office Group’s buildings in London.
DA: Tarkett has established itself as playful and modern because of collaborations with studios like Note. Where has that vision come from?
FB: We have a strong focus on combining original design and sustainability, and we aim to demonstrate the maximum potential of all our products, in response to the demands of the market. When collaborating with brands such as Note Design Studio or Studio 5.5, we look for a fresh outlook to create a new perception of our collections, and we always strive to be in the forefront of sustainable design.
In October 2021, Tarkett announced a new partnership with the Swedish environmental company Ragn-Sells, aiming to develop carbon negative mineral fillers for vinyl flooring by 2025. The calcium is extracted from ash piles in Estonia and the calcium carbonate is produced using carbon capture technology. The calcium carbonate currently used by Tarkett is already carbon neutral, and with the calcium carbonate produced by Ragn-Sells, it is expected to generate a carbon negative footprint.
DA: How do you balance sharing knowledge on circular design and production with the fact that it’s one of your unique selling points?
FB: We want to help the whole industry move towards a healthier and more responsible future. In addition to our own products, Tarkett takes back products such as carpet tiles from competitors to recycle them as well, so we try not to limit our potential beneficial effect to our own products. In addition, Tarkett offers continuing professional development [CPD] training courses free of charge to architects and designers, including one that covers specifying sustainable floorcoverings.
DA: Do you have advice for consumers looking to buy from circular brands?
FB: Look under the surface of a brand to see its credentials: Tarkett has been passionate about becoming more circular for years, implementing recycling programmes, innovating sustainable technology and setting goals. We would advise consumers to look for information such as an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), a Material Health Statement (MHS) or Cradle to Cradle assessments that look at specific sustainability criteria such as renewable energy and climate requirements, water stewardship and social fairness. Finally, ask questions: if a product says it is recyclable, does this refer to installation waste or old floors as well? Where it is recycled and how is the recycled content used? This is important because the term ‘recycling’ is sometimes used when referring to waste-to-energy incineration. For anyone who is looking to specify Tarkett’s most sustainable products, we recommend choosing from our Circular Selection, which features our most sustainable products.