Carpeting and flooring manufacturer Belgotex has adopted green technologies at its Pietermaritzburg plant that are in sync with its ethos
The Belgotex philosophy, We Tread Softly, reflects the company’s commitment to sustainability. Belgotex has been a leader in the local flooring industry for 35 years, and has a healthy export market for high-end residential, corporate and commercial flooring. A member of the multinational Belgotex International Group, which spans five continents, the firm designs, manufactures and delivers a wide range of carpeting, vinyl, artificial grass, underlays and rubber flooring to private homes and the corporate, commercial, healthcare, retail, educational, hospitality, sporting and landscaping sectors.
The company’s continuous investment in technology has laid the foundation for manufacturing excellence, while adapting to market trends has ensured that Belgotex remains competitive, locally and internationally. The shareholders, together with management, take great pride in their innovative approach to business.
In an age where the product needs to speak for itself and can no longer be the differentiator, Belgotex is now focusing its investments and energy on its people, brand and distribution channel.
Twenty-seven years ago, the company embarked on its ‘green journey’. Operating from its 100 000 m2 ‘green’ factory, Belgotex is committed to sustainability on all levels. We Tread Softly is one of the company’s core values, and this is evident in why it does what it does.
Raw materials for several products are derived from post-industrial and post-consumer waste, and the needlepunch ranges are made with a blend of polypropylene and recycled eco-fibre (manufactured using post-production waste). This considerably lowers the embodied energy associated with virgin raw material use.
A carbon footprint analysis was conducted in 2010 and, with this, Belgotex developed its blueprint for carbon emission reductions. Greenhouse gas emissions are a major consideration, and the company has reduced its carbon footprint significantly, with integrated carbon management systems. Energy Management
Numerous energy-optimisation initiatives have provided more sustainable energy sources, including the R17 million PV solar power plant that provides about 5% of the company’s annual energy requirement. A Phase 2 solar power plant of the same capacity is scheduled to be rolled out later in 2018.
A rainwater-harvesting initiative has considerably reduced water consumption by using rainwater from the factory’s roofs in non-critical applications. The company’s move to 100% solution-dyed yarn production has also resulted in significant water, chemical and energy savings. This has not only saved a precious resource, but has also meant that Belgotex has distanced itself from old technology as well as offering clients a far superior ‘stain-proof’ yarn system.
In alignment with the well-known three Rs of waste management – reduce, re-use and recycle – Belgotex seeks to reduce inputs, reuse materials and recycle waste from the company’s operations, effectively reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. This ongoing green journey is in alignment with Belgotex’s commitment to operational sustainability practices.
The company adheres to international best-practice principles and frameworks such as the ISO Quality and Environmental ISO 9001 (quality management system); ISO 14001 (environmental management system); ISO 14064/7 (greenhouse gas emissions reporting); ISO 14040/4/6 (life-cycle assessment); ISO 14024/5 (environmental labelling); GRI-GR4 Guidelines; 12 Principles; as well as the GreenTag and 6-Star Green Star certifications.
The company has a history of establishing, supporting and implementing programmes that uplift and make a difference in communities and organisations that need assistance.
In 2015, Belgotex established the Belgotex Foundation, which was initially dedicated to early childhood development (ECD). The foundation was successful in transforming numerous projects across SA with their wide range of products, but after a few years of such support, they soon realised that the role of the foundation was far greater than ECD revamps and upgrades.
Edward Colle, Belgotex CEO and co-founder of the Belgotex Foundation, says: ‘Belgotex believes wholeheartedly in a hand-up rather than a hand-out approach, and we are proud to be associated with initiatives that support the efforts of communities and individuals to improve their socio-economic circumstances. If we look around, we cannot be proud of the current situation in society.
‘It may be more evident in this beautiful country we live in, but the same social decay and lack of inclusive growth is evident globally. On a personal level, this was not part of our purpose, and if we don’t address it, it’ll mean that we are handing our children a very challenging set of cards to try and navigate,’ he says.
‘On a more fundamental level, if we can’t look after our planet and the society that occupies it, we will have a very dysfunctional set of circumstances which will put immense pressure on business itself, as the environment won’t be conducive to any form of growth. We all want growth in some shape or form… The sooner we address and deal with these issues, the cheaper it will be in the long run,’ he says.
Launched in 1999, the Belgotex Academy, which was covers training in basic and advanced flooring installation, technical sales and estimating across the various product categories offered by the company.
In addition, Belgotex offers youth and employee development through internship and learnership programmes, various training and awareness programmes, and employee-wellness campaigns.