Unilin do Brasil takes steps towards a smaller carbon footprint
How can we reduce our carbon emissions as much as possible? Unilin Group asks itself that question every day all over the world. And so does our team in Brazil. The team felt that Expo Revestir, the largest flooring trade fair in Latin America, was a perfect opportunity to inspire others.
In the past two years, the coronavirus pandemic threw a spanner in the works, but last March it was all systems go again for Expo Revestir. More than 52,000 visitors attended this latest edition of the floor solutions trade fair in São Paulo. From manufacturers to architects and developers: all the players in the Latin American flooring market were there with ceramic tiles, vinyl and laminate flooring. So of course Unilin do Brasil had to be there as well.
Compensation tree planting
Alice Olivera, Marketing Manager: “The trade fair has enabled us to expand our network, present our existing laminate collection and introduce our LVT collection to the Brazilian market. We also wanted to make our customers and other businesses think about climate change."
One of the things Unilin do Brasil did to benefit our environmental approach was engage the company Carbon Free Brasil. “Carbon Free Brasil calculated how much CO₂ we were emitting during the exhibition days”, Alice explains. “We worked with them to look at how many trees we needed to plant to offset those emissions, and then we went ahead and planted them.”
“Say, if someone from Unilin Group took a flight to visit the trade fair, we compensated that by planting trees,” Tim Cogghe adds. As a Strategic Project Manager, Tim is helping to launch the LVT collection in the Brazilian market. “Those trees were planted in a devastated forest area in Santa Catarina in the South Region of Brazil. Our aim is to help restore biodiversity.”
A plan for fewer greenhouse gases
That idea didn't just occur to us: the Brazilian team had been working on a plan to reduce greenhouse gases for several years already. Michela Sakihama, Sales Manager: “For us, the trade fair with its tens of thousands of visitors was a perfect opportunity to show our customers and contacts how we can tackle climate change. A lot of people were impressed. They were particularly enthusiastic about our laminate collection's FSC certification.”
The certification shows that our wood comes from sustainably managed forests. Tim: “Ceramic tiles dominate the Brazilian market here. However, they are a lot less sustainable than laminate, in part because a lot more water needs to be used to manufacture them. Our laminate collection is made from wood from certified and sustainably managed forests only. By the way, did you know that Brazil's conifers and eucalyptus trees are the fastest growing in the world? That also means that they absorb more CO₂ more quickly.”
Reducing our impact on three levels
We are currently working to reduce our carbon footprint on three different levels: in terms of work, energy and transport. Alice: “First we analyse our impact and in a second phase we map out what exactly we can do." Our employees have been using reusable glass drinking bottles for many years now, for instance. Michela: “We think that's very important. Everyone receives one in their welcome bag. We always pay a lot of attention to recycling too.” The production department also makes a significant contribution. For example, it is currently looking at buying electric forklifts rather than gas forklifts.
“In terms of energy, there's not that much more we can still do”, Alice continues. “Our energy mainly comes from hydropower dams, which is already very sustainable. However, we are now also looking at whether solar panels would be useful here.”
The third level of carbon footprint reduction also proves to be the most difficult. “Electric vehicles are almost non-existent here,” Tim explains. “It is currently almost impossible to run trucks on electricity for those long distances. But there is an alternative for passenger cars: ethanol biofuel, which is fairly common here.” Michela: “We ask our employees to use cars running on ethanol rather than fossil fuels."
The Brazilian team therefore primarily tries to drastically reduce its own carbon footprint, but it also aims to inspire and collaborate with other companies and even other teams within Unilin Group. It does all this with one important goal: to create a better world to live in.