(text for end users) Spring has arrived and with it the refreshingly new collections of laminate flooring. Laminate is one of the world's most popular floor coverings. And that's hardly surprising as the numerous decors, outstanding usage properties and most importantly the very good environmental credentials of quality products from European manufacturers can't fail to impress: the best that nature has to offer – perfected by cutting-edge technology. Not just architects and contractors have come to appreciate this, but also increasing numbers of people building or renovating their own homes.
In March 2013 the renowned Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung (GfK, Nuremberg) published a market study on behalf of PEFC Deutschland e.V. * showing that the majority of German consumers want to see independent quality seals provide evidence of environmental credentials and sustainability claims used for advertising purposes. 80.1 percent of those surveyed believe that companies which use environmental and sustainability claims for advertising purposes need to be able to demonstrate them in full. Four out of five Germans consider independent certificates suitable for this.
The public is increasingly rejecting superficial "greenwashing". Instead people want credible suppliers who don't just promise environmentally-sound and socially-responsible actions or ecological product features but also actually deliver them. The European brand-name manufacturers of laminate floors committed themselves to the principle of sustainability, set new standards in environmental compatibility and advocated independent test commissions at an early stage.
High standards and not just in terms of environmental compatibility
According to the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen e.V. (German Sustainable Building Council), sustainability revolves around three factors: ecology, economy and socially sustainable solutions – for example where and under what conditions production takes place. The European brand producers of laminate flooring who have come together in the "EPLF – Verband der Europäischen Laminatfußbodenhersteller e.V." are pioneers in their commitment to sustainability. They have independently taken responsibility for the very high standards of their products and how they are manufactured. Consumers of quality laminate flooring can rest assured that they are buying products with enhanced sustainability. And they are helping to keep jobs in Europe.
EPLF President Ludger Schindler: "The EPLF and its member companies made a clear commitment to sustainable construction early on. For years our manufacturers have been continually investing in the development of innovative and environmentally-friendly products. The EPLF was one of the first groups in the flooring industry to prompt the development of EPDs and therefore paved the way towards increased transparency and product safety for the consumer." The EPLF has been a member of the Institute of Construction and Environment (IBU) e.V. since 2009. Representatives of the EPLF's Technology Working Group are involved in official standardisation committees throughout Europe and the rest of the world, currently working, for example, on the revision of EN 14041. This aims to integrate hazardous substances and environmental aspects into CE labelling, including indoor air quality, VOC emissions and harmful substances.
Architects and designers already value tested environmental quality. Interior design products which have a positive environmental impact and can demonstrate this in specific environmental declarations (EPD) are now increasingly being used in the commercial construction sector. In shopfitting in particular, "green" high-tech products are in demand. Customers want high-quality, eco-conscious products offering flexible use and which can be fully recycled. The values of consumers are now changing again. The greater the environmental awareness of customers, the more frequently sustainability becomes an important selling point. And laminate flooring with its outstanding environmental credentials is virtually unbeatable in this respect.
Laminate flooring is produced without any PVC or softeners!
All laminate flooring components used by EPLF members are manufactured without the use of pesticides, organochlorine compounds or harmful heavy metals. Laminate contains no PVC and is therefore free from softeners. Decorative flooring finishes are printed on certified paper with a high proportion of recycled material using water-soluble inks. Eco-friendly resins and adhesives are used as the binder. Laminate is therefore made of 100% natural materials and helps promote a healthy indoor climate. No other high-tech floor covering can keep pace.
The sustainable origin of the wood used for laminate flooring, guaranteed by seal of approvals, rules out controversial sources. Modern technology enables authentic decors and pore patterns. For example, the customer can create the natural look of rare and exotic timbers in the home without any harm to forest resources. The same applies to the big trend setters of the 2013 season: large rustic boards with all-over printing in various widths, a wide range of techniques for popular oak looks, sometimes with distinct cracks and branches – the latest collections of laminate floors offer an infinite wealth of creative options that would not otherwise be available on the market because of the limited resources of natural timbers.
Long-lasting and fully recyclable
Laminate flooring lasts a very long time which cuts follow-on costs for the user and is an important factor in positive statements on sustainability. Even once the first signs of spring are gone, laminate flooring will continue to spread joy for a long time to come. Even after years of use, the boards maintain their shape and look as good as the day they were bought. Customers therefore benefit twice over from laminate flooring and their value for money is proven once again.
And if the laminate flooring has to replaced when the customer moves home, it can be easily lifted using modern click systems and disposed of or recycled if need be. At the end of their life cycles, laminate floors produce totally safe waste which causes harm to neither man nor the planet. There is no need to dispose of it as special waste. In fact, once chipped, it can be returned to the production process or even use as a growing medium in agriculture.
*PEFC: Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes
elne1304_b1: How about olive? Laminate flooring can be used to create the natural look of rare and exotic timbers in the home without any harm to forest resources. (Motif: Haro Laminate Olive matt) - photo: HARO
elne1304_b2: Free from PVCs and softeners: laminate flooring ensures a healthy living environment. (Motif: Balterio Renaissance Oak) - photo: Balterio
elne1304_b3: Even fans of long rustic boards get their money's worth with the new laminate collections. (Motif: Meisterwerke Laminate | LD 400 | oak grey 6213 | imitation wood EP) - photo: Meisterwerke
elne1304_b4: Timeless laminate flooring decors are on a par with their traditional models. (Motif: Classic 1040 natural oak, end grain) - photo: Parador
elne1304_b5: Authentic design and a better surface feel: the trendsetters in the 2013 laminate season are also big on the used look. (Motif: Kronoflooring Variostep Classic) - photo: Kronoflooring
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