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BES 6001 Case Study - Polyflor Ltd

Company background

Established in 1915, James Halstead PLC (Polyflor Ltd) is a leading resilient flooring manufacturing and distribution company based in the UK with an annual turnover in excess of £217 million. Polyflor Ltd has been associated with the flooring of many landmark buildings both in the UK and internationally, with examples such as Rye St Antony School in Oxford to buildings for the 12th National Games of the People’s Republic of China. The company has a 600 strong workforce based mainly within Manchester, UK but also at multiple production and distribution facilities across the globe.

Polyflor Ltd’s Motivation – Completing the Cradle to Cradle Cycle

Polyflor Ltd has a clear environmental commitment, which recognises that a successful long-term business strategy involves more than achieving an acceptable operating profit. Across the company there is recognition that its operations have an effect on the local, regional and global environments. Polyflor Ltd’s senior management team are committed to achieving continuous improvements in the company’s sustainability performance.

Furthermore, Polyflor Ltd recognises that its impacts on society extend from those felt by its own workforce through to the impact that the business itself, as a commercial enterprise, has on society.  As a result Polyflor is committed to ensure the company and its employees make positive contributions to society as a whole. Polyflor Ltd already holds many environmental accreditations such as Life Cycle Analysis under BREEAM (ENP 415, ENP 429, ENP 472). To supplement this Polyflor Ltd also consider its impact through product stewardship and responsibility at end of life by running and being a founder member of the Recofloor scheme where off-cuts and end of life vinyl can be taken back for recycling. To complete the Cradle to Cradle cycle the one missing area was illustration of Responsible, Social and Ethical sourcing during the cradle to gate phase. The principles of BES 6001 around sustainability, ethical practice and responsible sourcing are very closely aligned to Polyflor Ltd’s business principles as expressed in their latest Sustainability Report:

  • Polyflor Ltd has a long-term commitment to sustainability and responsibility in all of the company’s roles: as a manufacturer and distributor of flooring products, as an employer, as a substantial landholder and as a key member of its neighbouring communities.
  • Polyflor Ltd is committed to acting responsibly in its business, and maintaining high standards of ethics and integrity in all its dealings with stakeholder, be they investors, customers, suppliers, employees or the community in which it operates.

To demonstrate on-going commitment to underpin and measure these environmental, social and economic drivers and to seek competitive advantage in the marketplace, Polyflor Ltd set out to secure BES 6001 certification for its resilient flooring products, which in the first phase included Luxury Vinyl Tiles. Certification for Polyflor resilient vinyl sheet Homogeneous, Heterogeneous and Polysafe Safety Flooring ranges will follow shortly.

In addition, Polyflor Ltd recognised that securing BES 6001 certification would help their customers secure additional BREEAM credits for their projects.  They also recognised that listing Polyflor Ltd’s BES 6001 certification on BRE Global’s Green Book Live service enabled clients to quickly and confidently establish the company’s sustainability credentials.

Certification process

Polyflor Ltd already prided itself in being ‘the responsible source' for flooring materials and had established a suite of sustainability policies across the organisation. Polyflor have significant levels of supplier certification to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards. The supply chain is well regulated and managed.  Polyflor Ltd's view was that BES 6001 is an excellent way to draw all these initiatives together under a single certified process to demonstrate a holistic approach to a wide range of ethical and sustainability issues.

The certification and audit process began in 2013.  There followed two site visits in May to James Halstead PLC’s Radcliffe HQ along with their production facilities in August 2013. The early engagement between Polyflor Ltd and BRE began with a scoping meeting in order for Polyflor to better understand in general terms how the BES 6001 Standard is implemented.  There then followed a period of consolidation of systems and evidence within Polyflor Ltd before the certification activity began in the middle of 2013 with the production by BRE of a pre-assessment report based on detailed documentary evidence provided by Polyflor. This evidence covered internal systems as well as breakdowns of input material types, sources and suppliers. This was a challenging activity for both client and auditor given Polyflor Ltd were the first resilient flooring manufacturer to be assessed to the standard. The input materials for the products to be audited were diverse, numerous and from a wide range of source companies. In addition, the combination of input materials was complex for the different product types within the ranges.

The site visits enabled BRE Global auditors to review Polyflor Ltd’s responsible sourcing related processes both at their HQ function from where the various policies and procedures were developed and managed, through to the  manufacturing plants where the policies were implemented in the production process. By October 2013 the process was complete and Polyflor Ltd, the first resilient flooring manufacturer to do so, had secured a ‘Very Good’ BES 6001 certified rating for the products which entered the certification process.

Customer benefits

Polyflor Ltd are been delighted with the results of their BES 6001 certification.  Tom Rollo, their Marketing Manager notes that:

‘Polyflor Ltd is a market leader in the resilient flooring industry and has long been sourcing materials in a responsible manner.

However, up until now it has been a difficult and lengthy process to demonstrate to stakeholders the underlying approach towards sustainability. The BES 6001 responsible sourcing certification now gives Polyflor clients the confidence and peace of mind that third party certification has taken place to demonstrate the leadership and commitment of the organisation. This will in the immediate future be supplemented by BES 6001 accreditation of more flooring ranges within the portfolio and on-going support of new verification schemes such as 'BRE Global's EN 15804 Verified EPD scheme for which Polyflor Ltd have also become a member’