Scandals Tarnish Resellers of Hardwood Flooring
One company, in contrast, shows how to raise the bar with attention to chain of custody and eco-friendly finishes.
Recently, Home Depot came under fire for sourcing plywood irresponsibly. But the giant retailer also became embroiled in recent scandal about hardwoods acquired by clearcutting rainforests. They were using a company called Home Legend as their main supplier for certain flooring products, but that chain of custody was woefully under-regulated.
CRAFT floors achieve “above and beyond” sustainability credentials by paying attention to every step of the manufacturing and finishing process. Loreto (Hickory) finish is shown.
One wood product manufacturer, however, has avoided these destructive missteps, by keeping strict watch on sourcing and a tight hold on the manufacturing process.
Activists and (sometimes) investors are holding big retailers such as Home Depot responsible for how they acquire lumber products. Photo: Brian Rogers
“We own the manufacturing facility in Asia,” says Rod Gray, Owner and CEO of CRAFT floor. “So we’re able to produce products at a price that’s affordable, but also maintain a lot of good sustainability credentials,” “We do it there because it’s the only way to stay competitive,” he adds. “If you were to produce the same flooring in North America, only the wealthy could afford this type of product.“
Craft has just opened what Gray calls an “Eco-Factory.” We are emphasizing sustainability on all levels,” he explains, “with zero waste certification in the works, and we’ll be using solar power for energy.”
“Sustainability is important to me personally,” he adds, “and as owner I can kind of do what I want. For the last four years, we’ve committed to only using wood from certified, sustainable sources. Other companies have chain of custody certification, but they make almost nothing themselves. We don’t do that. We only make products out of certified wood.”
That distinction, he says, often doesn’t reach designers. “If the owners aren’t on board, you’re going to get a lot of greenwashing. Most flooring companies aren’t even chain of custody certified. They say that they’re green because wood is renewable. But that’s not enough. It’s greenwashing.”
Greener Glues and Durable Finishes
Even if wood is sourced responsibly, flooring often fails on sustainability measures at the factory level. Gray says he has devoted CRAFT’s team toward minimizing all forms of chemical and other production impacts, yet still producing highly durable finishes.
“It’s a delicate balance,” he explains. “It’s not something that happens by accident. Our formaldehyde readings are really really low, around 20 parts per billion, way below GreenGuard Gold’s standards, which are in the 70s.
“The other achievement is that we have a Declare Label for our product,” he adds, “and we’re Red List Free.”
Red List Free means that a product does not contain any of the harmful products listed on the so called Red List, created by the Living Building Challenge.
“We’re the only flooring company that has a urethane finish with a Declare label.” He adds. “The only other floorings with a Declare label, one has a natural oil finish, and the other has NO finish on it. It was really hard, because our customers want a high quality, durable urethane finish. So it took us almost a year to get it. We had to go back to our coating company in Germany and get them to reformulate their coatings, removing or replacing everything on the Red List.”
“We managed to accomplish all this in our old factory, and as our new factory goes online, we’ll be able to raise the bar even higher. We do a lot of detail and artisanal stuff that make our products look really nice, so we have UV ovens and drying systems that we’ll be moving over to renewable energy.”
Non-Toxic at All Levels
“We’re really emphasizing the healthy home aspect of our products now,” Gray says. “It’s really important, especially to millennials. There are a lot of bad chemicals that are not volatile, that don’t go airborne, but there’s another aspect too. if you have kids playing on a floor, they might pick up lead or other stuff you don’t know is in a product.
“That’s why we like the Declare labeling,” he continues. “They actually address those types of indoor pollutants. Like everything, things are complicated, and we have to look at the big picture. At CRAFT, We’re working on a sustainability story that begins with the raw material and goes all the way through the process. It’s not just the point of sale. We want our workers to be in a safe environment too.