These impacts occur across the product’s entire lifecycle: from resource extraction and fibre production to installation and disposal. Therefore, it also considers all components of the “carpet system”, including the fibre, the backing or padding material, and the glues and adhesives used for binding.
For example, when looking at the sustainability benefits of synthetic versus natural fibres, the answer isn’t always clear-cut. Both natural and synthetic carpet fibres require water and energy-intensive processes and may release harmful pollutants into the environment. Both types can also use significant quantities of hazardous substances during manufacture and have processes that contribute substantially to landfill.
The foam used for carpet backing can involve the use of ozone-depleting chemicals or may present a risk to human health by including potentially carcinogenic compounds such as 1,3-butadiene. The backing should also be readily separable from the rest of the carpet, and the manufacturer or retailer should have take-back or recycling schemes in place for their products.
Hence, each step of the product’s lifecycle represents an opportunity to reduce harm to people and planet and increase performance for all types of carpet. In particular, there are opportunities to substantially reduce the volume of carpet-related waste to landfill at the end of the product’s lifecycle. For instance, embracing the use of recycled materials where possible.
The standard sets requirements that aim to provide a benefit by:
• preventing the use of specific hazardous materials and toxic heavy metals such as known carcinogens and mutagens
• limiting emissions of volatile organic compounds
• reducing the impacts of raw material sourcing
• requiring efficient energy, water and waste management
• reducing the use and subsequent release of environmentally harmful substances to the environment at all stages of the product’s lifecycle
• encouraging recovery, reuse, recycling and responsible disposal of materials and packaging
• ensuring workers and suppliers through the supply chain can expect fair pay, equal opportunity, and a safe working environment
The scope of this standard is applicable to the following types of broadloom and modular tile carpets:
• Natural fibre carpets such as wool;
• Synthetic polymer fibre carpets comprising of nylon and nylon blends, olefin (polypropylene), polyester, acrylic, polyamide and polyethylene terephthalate (PET); and
• Blends composed of material that fit into the above fibre types.
Other carpet materials that do not directly fit into the above may be considered for certification, provided the product fulfils the requirements of relevant sections of this standard.
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