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Materialising Sustainability

The next step in Formica Group’s sustainability journey is a higher level of transparency - proactively communicating our environmental impact data and our plans for improving it in the future.

Formica Group takes a common sense approach to sustainability. This requires the acknowledgment that, by definition, a product requires resources and energy in its creation and as a result, some level of environmental impact will occur. That said, we have adopted the relentless pursuit of maximising our product functionality while minimising its environmental impact. We believe that sustainability is a balancing act between product functionality and its impact. Our goal is to reduce the impacts without losing sight of the product functionality our customers require.

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Overall Philosophy

Formica Group’s sustainability policy is built upon a basic motivation to shift from “being less bad” for the environment to being “good” and having a positive impact on the world around us. This approach has three stages:

Do no harm: We will comply with safety, product and sustainability regulations and guidelines set by the countries in which it operates. Beyond that, we will seek opportunities to minimise the environmental impact in all of our operations and products.

Do good: We will support suppliers and customers in realising their sustainability challenges. We will continue to look for opportunities and initiatives to support and promote longer-term sustainability beyond the direct scope of our current operations.

Do better: We believe that investing in sustainability is beneficial to the overall environment and to the long-term health of our business. Many sustainability challenges constitute good business opportunities that support our customers while continuing to allow the company to thrive.

Cradle-to-gate approach

At the heart of Formica Group’s sustainability vision and approach is reducing the impacts generated from the cradle-to-gate portion of our materials life cycle. Our guiding principle is two-fold: increasing efficiency or ”do more with less” and replacing the most impactful energy and material inputs of our process.

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Life cycle assessment (LCA)
LCA is a standardised approach for assessing the environmental impacts associated with a product, process, or activity by identifying and quantifying energy and materials used and wastes released to the environment across its life cycle. Depending on the goal and scope, the LCA can focus on a part of the life cycle (cradle-to-gate) or include all the life cycle stages (cradle-to-grave).

  • Cradle-to-gate: Refers to a partial life cycle assessment where all inputs (raw materials and energy) and outputs (emissions and wastes) are considered from the extraction of raw materials (cradle) to the product is ready to leave the factory (gate). The use and disposal/re-use phases of a product’s life cycle are not taken into account in cradle-to-gate.

  • Cradle-to-grave: Refers to the full life cycle assessment, from the extraction of raw materials (cradle) to the transportation, manufacturing, use, and finally disposal or re-use of the product (grave). All inputs (raw materials and energy) and outputs (emissions and wastes) are considered for all the life cycle stages.
Environmental product declaration (EPD)
An EPD is a standardised, third-party verified and internationally recognised document which presents the performance of a product on global warming, acidification, resource depletion and other environmental metrics. The environmental impacts presented in an EPD are typically calculated using cradle-to-grave LCA.

Formica® Laminate Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) at
Climate change/carbon footprint/global warming potential
This indicator expresses how much heat greenhouse gases trap in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are a group of compounds that absorb heat. During the day the sun shines through the atmosphere, warming the earth’s surface. At night, earth’s surface cools, releasing heat back into the air. However, some of the heat gets trapped by the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the more heat stays on Earth. The main greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide (which is also the most abundant greenhouse gas), methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinate gases. The global warming indicator is calculated in terms of carbon dioxide equivalents (kgCO2eq).
Primary energy demand
Primary energy is energy found in nature that has not been subjected to any conversion or transformation process (such as primary energy content in crude oil, natural gas, and biomass). Energy that is already converted will require primary energy to provide this “delivered energy” (e.g. steam, electricity or other thermal energy derived from any technical process). Primary energy demand indicates the amount of energy that a system under assessment has extracted from the natural environment.
Water footprint
This indicator assesses the amount of water consumed weighted by a scarcity indicator, hence accounting for regional differences in water scarcity: consuming water in Canada might have a different impact than doing it in Italy or Spain.
Non-renewable/fossil material
Non-renewable or fossil raw materials are finite resources, this means they are used faster than they can be regenerated, (e.g., it takes millions of years to regenerate petroleum) and this leads to resource depletion.
Renewable/biobased material
Renewable or biobased raw materials are infinite resources that can be regenerated quickly. For example, after cutting down a tree to make paper, you can plant a new one directly. Thus, biobased materials can be used repeatedly without causing resource depletion. Preventing resource depletion is one of the main benefits of using biobased materials. Another benefit of biobased materials compared to fossil materials is the lower carbon footprint. This is because biobased materials capture and store CO2 from the atmosphere during growth and continue storing it after being harvested. Once incinerated or landfilled, the CO2 stored is released back into the atmosphere.
Circular product
Circular products are designed according to the principles of the circular economy, i.e., to eliminate waste, keep materials in use, and regenerate natural systems. A circular product may embody one or more of these principles, e.g., a product designed for easy repair will keep materials in use for longer and reduce waste. The central aim of a circular economy is to maintain the function and value of products, components and materials at the highest possible level and to extend the lifespan of such products. Thus, durability is a key point of circularity.
Durable product
A durable product is a product that has a long lifespan and therefore limits the need for replacement. The longer the product lasts, the longer the period of time to spread the environmental impact associated with the production of raw materials and the manufacturing process. Also, by needing fewer replacements, long-lasting products entail less use of resources, lower emissions of pollutants and a smaller amount of waste than short-lifespan goods.
Carbon neutrality
Products become carbon neutral when their carbon emissions are calculated and compensated via carbon offsetting projects. In practice, any emissions associated with the product must be offset by an emission reduction elsewhere. Our first priority is to reduce carbon emissions, and then to balance out the remaining emissions, that are hard to abate, by carbon offsetting.
Carbon offset
The term carbon offset broadly refers to a reduction or removal of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions in order to compensate for emissions that occur elsewhere. A company can, for example, purchase what is called carbon offset credits that can be used to compensate for their own emissions. One credit represents the emission reduction of one metric ton of CO2 or an equivalent amount of other greenhouse gases. The purchase of carbon offset credits helps finance and support projects that capture or reduce CO2 (or other GHGs) emissions.

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