Sustainability at Forbo Flooring Systems

Sustainability Principles – Forbo Flooring Systems

We are committed to creating floor coverings that will benefit everyone that walks on them. We will do this by providing safe, hygienic floor coverings that will contribute to the comfort and quality of indoor environments. Sustainablity stock graphic

The information within this blog is taken from the fifth Sustainability Report. The report contains a transparent overview of Forbo Flooring Systems’ environmental, social and economic performance during the 2016 calendar year.

Forbo is green and has an environmentally conscious product portfolio

All 12 Forbo Flooring Systems manufacturing facilities are ISO-9001 and ISO 14001 certified. We are proud that we have the largest phthalate-free portfolio in the industry. Our manufacturing sites are modern, run on green energy and we are close to achieving zero waste. In most cases, we use waste material to make the backing of our products. Where this is not possible, we direct waste streams to our textile operations where they are used to make a tile backing for our flocked flooring.

Another unique way in which we curb waste applies to our textile floor coverings. For some of our carpet production, we use regenerated yarn made from old fishing nets and PET bottles, as a result out portfolio has, measured by weight, a high level of recycled content – roughly 36%



While there are many benefits to selecting a textile flooring covering, clients also consider non-resilient floors, especially in high-traffic areas. Hygiene is a primary concern for Forbo Flooring Systems and underpins our Committed to the Health of One initiative. We are proud to offer a unique textile flooring that is also washable, durable and the only flooring of its kind to be approved by the British Allergy Foundation.

flotex allergy uk

Sustainable Priorities

As a global leader in flooring systems, we have a responsibility to all our stakeholders to create a better environment. The way we serve and drive the market sets the pace and standard for world-class flooring solutions. Sustainable development and ‘creating better environments’ is an integral part of all our activities.

With our long history in manufacturing sustainable floorings, our legacy dates back 150 to when when linoleum started to be produced by the companies which would eventually become Forbo. Effectively, we have been at the forefront of sustainability since the 1860s and our tagline ‘creating better environments’ shows our commitment and sincerity.

We do not just make empty promises at Forbo, our commitments to sustainability are based upon the UN’s definition of ‘sustainable development’. This definition forms a policy comprising the following three areas:

  1. The ‘environmental dimension’: planet, the way in which measures specific to improving the environmental impact of the processes and products of the company are regulated and executed.
  2. The ‘social dimension’: people – the way in which social equity and corporate governance are defined and followed within the company.
  3. The ‘economic dimension’: profit – the way in which the company organises its position in the market to actively develop its sustainable product by using its economic stability and profitability for continuous improvement.

Forbo Flooring supports these dimensions, also called the ‘triple bottom line’ or ‘people, planet, profit,’ in a constructive and consistent manner.

These translate as:

  • ‘Compliance Plus’ – a commitment to go above and beyond government regulations and requirements
  • Integrating sustainability considerations into all our business decisions
  • Regularly monitoring and reviewing progress in sustainability performance
  • A commitment to continuous improvement
  • Promoting sustainability throughout our value train and we expect all of our suppliers and customers to comply with this
  • Committed to the health of one’ – our focus on the health and well-being of the individual

Committed to the Health of One


Our Committed to the Health of One (CHO) programme is an initiative to make a positive contribution to indoor environments to ultimately positively impact the health and wellbeing of consumers. We focus on these areas in particular:

  • Indoor air emissions
  • Asthma and allergy triggers
  • Light reflectance values
  • Acoustics
  • Cleaning and maintenance

We are also committed to the health and safety of our employees. Therefore we provide safe and hygienic working spaces throughout the business and our manufacturing facilities and we continually improve upon our processes to safeguard our employees’ well being.

We liaise regularly with internal and external stakeholders through a range of activities to ensure that we understand the material impact of our endeavours.

Promoting Health and Well-Being

In certain areas, flooring is key to minimising the risk of accidents. The right floor coverings can help to reduce trips and falls such as our Step safety vinyl that is perfect for use on busses and coaches. Floors can also act as a ‘first line of defense’ for instance

Marmoleum FR is bacteriostatic which can help to prevent the growth of bacteria such as MRSA.

Health, Wellbeing and Safety in the Supply Chain

We purchase raw materials to support our business locally, regionally and globally. These materials include: linseed oil, gum rosin, and PVC. We are conscientious no matter what the product or service is, from chemicals and fillers to energy, fuels, logistics and IT. Responsible sourcing is one of our key purchasing priorities and we comply with regulatory frameworks, adhere to best practice and manage supply risks. We ensure this through our Supplier Requirements programme, in which our purchasers visit suppliers’ production sites to obtain a first-hand impression of suppliers’ operations. This initiative was launched in 2012 and Forbo Flooring Systems is proud to have achieved SA8000, which is our KPI for measuring our progress in responsible sourcing.

Social Accountability

Forbo Flooring Systems expects all of its partners to commit to the SA8000 requirements. Our execution of local audits as part of our supplier approval process ensures that only suppliers are selected who demonstrate proper observation of human and labour rights, occupational health and safety and environmental performance goals.

Reducing Environmental Impacts

Through proactive engagement we support local economies and operate in a transparent way in order to communicate clearly with communities. We mitigate our environmental impact by monitoring our environmental performance and engaging in community consultation. Any complaints from stakeholders are investigated and resolved to avoid future recurrences.

We look at the following areas when calculating our cradle-to-gate environmental impact:

  • Changes in the use of raw materials
  • Changes in yields
  • The recycling or reuse of waste
  • wind energyThe energy usage of all our suppliers of those materials

Raw materials and environmental footprint

Environmental impact has been positive regarding our raw materials, main contributors have been wood flour, PVC and plasticiser supplies. Wood flour is produced using green electricity generated from biomass or wind, while PVC and plasticisers supplied to all our sites require less energy to produce. Compared to our baseline year 2009, weighted energy consumption of PVC fell by 11% and energy consumption for plasticiser production was reduced by 6%.

The “4Rs”

We use Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), an open and transparent methodology, to measure our products’ complete environmental performance. For Forbo Flooring Systems, this translates into the “4Rs” which are the core drivers to reduce environmental impact in the production of our products and at the end of their lives. These are:

Reduce: energy, landfill, raw material consumption

Renewable: electricity, natural & sustainable raw materials

Reuse: production waste across all sites

Recycle: product and sampling take back schemes

We endeavour to reduce the energy used in transporting products to the customer and have developed logistics plans to support this. In 2015, we also began to transport products by train.

“Reduce” is the most important of the 4R principles and many of our manufacturing sites made a positive contribution in 2016 by reducing raw material usage and packaging, and increasing the recycled content of our products.


We have an ongoing policy of obtaining electricity from renewable sources. In 2016, renewables accounted for 53% of all the energy consumed in our manufacturing facilities, equal to our 2015 consumption. This is helping us to reduce our carbon footprint by lowering the amount of CO2 we emit into the environment.

“Reuse” and “Recycle”

Our definition of recycling is “material diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process that is sent to a third party for them to use as a raw material.” That third party can be another Forbo site or external recycler.

Not only have we invested in greater capacity, we have also developed new techniques to process waste into usable materials that can replace raw materials. This has enabled us to greatly increase the recycled content of our products. As a result, we reused and recycled, on average, 88% of all our product waste in 2016, a further 3% more than in 2015.

In 2016, the weighted average amount of recycled and reused content in our products was 28%.

Forbo Footprint Infographic


Flooring Systems wants to make a sustainable contribution to improving people’s quality of life. We therefore support various charity projects with products, expertise, and financial contributions. The focus is on small, locally initiated projects and partnerships. Examples from 2016 include:

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In 2015, Forbo Flooring Systems started to work with Habitat for Humanity. Previously, we had made donations in kind to this worldwide organization. Today, Flooring Systems is part of the Habitat for Humanity Business Club in the Netherlands, and Habitat for Humanity is one of the charities we promote throughout our organization. Habitat strives to provide everybody with the basics of a ‘roof and a floor.’ The organization funds and builds affordable dwellings all over the world and each year organizes special house-building events. Flooring Systems actively supports the work of Habitat in the Netherlands, USA, Canada, and Australia.



In France, Flooring Systems teamed up with L’association Lazare to offer care for the homeless by providing the means and the materials to decorate newly built homes for the organization’s at-risk occupants.

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In Norway and Sweden, Flooring Systems supported UNHCR in providing floor covering for the premises used to care for the influx and relocation of migrants and refugees from Syria, Africa, and Asia.




The Ronald McDonald House provides support and housing for families with sick children. Flooring Systems continued its ongoing support in 2016 with donations in kind and financial contributions in the USA, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

MarklundLogo halo


Marklund continued to be one of the major sponsorship activities of Flooring Systems in the USA. Marklund is a home and school non-profit organization that supports infants, children, teens, and adults with profound developmental disabilities and special health care needs.

outward bound trust


Flooring Systems in the UK continued its long-standing sponsorship of the Outward Bound Trust. This educational charity helps young people in the UK to discover their potential by placing them in challenging yet supportive outdoor environments far away from home.



Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal together form the historic former state of Bengal, a distinct geographical and ethno-linguistic region in South Asia. Jute is an important crop for the farmers in this region, and the fibers of the jute plant are spun into yarn and woven into cloth locally; they are also used as backing for our linoleum products. Clean drinking water and good sanitation are essential for good health and preventing the spread of disease. Some years ago we started a project with our local supplier, Janata jute mills, to give everyone who works in the mill a domestic toilet, a tube well for drinking water, and in some cases both. Janata made all the local arrangements, such as hiring a contractor and inspecting the potential installation sites, and completed the installations.

To download the full sustainability report, please click here. To learn more about Committed to the Health of One, please click the link. To arrange a discussion with a member of the sales team or for enquiries about our Transport flooring solutions, please email 


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