Laminex New Zealand supports the belief that a company needs to be responsible for its actions – socially, ethically, and environmentally. GREENfirst™ has been established to encompass Laminex New Zealand’s numerous programmes of environmental management. General Manager Jerome Deperrois says the GREENfirst strategy reflects the company’s belief that action must follow good intentions and ambitious goals.
It can often be difficult for consumers to understand whether the materials and decorative surfaces chosen for homes and workspaces are environmentally preferable or low-emission options, says Deperrois. “A large proportion of any manufacturing process is often unknown to the end-user and can end up being a bit mysterious,” he says. “The challenge has been that in the absence of information, assumptions are made. Laminex New Zealand manufactures and offers not only great products but also environmentally considerate ones. But we need to communicate this in the market place and to prove it.”
Laminex New Zealand has long had a strong environmental ethic across its manufacturing plants and distribution centres, says Deperrois. Today the company employs a range of strategies to support its sustainability goals, including the use of sustainable and recycled materials as raw material or fuels, the use of renewable energy—particularly biomass—and the introduction of new technologies to improve energy efficiency.
Innovative methods are used to manage waste from manufacturing processes including industrial vermiculture (worm-farming) for organic waste and wood waste as a source of bio-energy thereby diverting material from landfill, reducing vehicle movements, and reducing our demand for fossil fuel-generated electricity. Excess wood dust created through the manufacturing process that once was a huge waste-to-landfill issue has become an award-winning, high-energy fuel source as a result of creative thinking.
Manufacturing reconstituted wood products and low-pressure laminates bring with them a range of challenges, including the use of ingredients, emissions and safety challenges, Deperrois says. “It is one of the real benefits of the Environmental Choice New Zealand (ECNZ) certification process; there is no stone unturned and Laminex NZ is required to provide evidence to support any claims. Whether it’s through material safety data sheets (MSDS), energy and waste data, ACC Partnership details, emissions tests or inspections, there is no hiding with ECNZ certification. The manufacturing sites at Taupo and Hamilton are audited annually and while this has been on-going for many years, passing these supervision audits are never taken for granted. Every aspect of the business is reviewed and the auditors are adept at identifying opportunities for improvement. We welcome this – we are in the business of constant improvement.”
Deperrois says ECNZ certification provided an ideal tool to communicate Laminex NZ’s efforts in the sustainability and environmental area. “A government-owned, independently assessed label, ECNZ certification focuses on an environmental life-cycle approach which provides a holistic look at the manufacturing and operational procedures of NZ businesses. We engaged in certification over 10 years ago and continue to do so today, to provide peace of mind to specifiers choosing our products and to support our customers involved in Green Building projects.”
The New Zealand Green Building Council recognises the ECNZ certification in both the Green Star and Homestar rating tools, offering maximum materials credits.
Underpinning Laminex NZ’s commitment to the environment has been the creation of a role for a full-time Sustainability Advisor who has been in place since mid-2013, leading to refinement in the company’s understanding of sustainability and support for market leadership and ongoing relevance.
Deperrois says Laminex NZ fields regular requests for copies of its ECNZ certificate, often from architects working on projects with a NZGBC Green Star or Homestar rating tool in mind. Market research compiled by EBOSS has shown that ECNZ is rated as “very important” by more than a third of architects, he says.
“We are also finding that there are occasions where our ECNZ certification has enabled our customers to follow a more streamlined process to their own certification, thanks to our products carrying the ECNZ label.
Customers using Laminex’s Superfine® particleboard and the Melteca® quality laminated panels range can be confident that this is a decision assured by New Zealand’s only government-owned and independently run ecolabel, says Deperrois. “They can be confident that the product chosen for the family home or the future generation school not only meets, but probably exceeds, low-emission standards and has waste minimisation and energy management processes in place. There has also been an adherence to strict environmental guidance around accepted ingredients and risk management regarding the workers, the environment and community.
“ECNZ certification allows Laminex New Zealand to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and our environment, to continuous improvement of our products and processes, providing peace of mind to customers and end users for a better future for us all.”
Laminex New Zealand forms part of the International Businesses division of Fletcher Building Products Ltd, and aims to be New Zealand’s trusted business partner for decorative surfaces and panel products offering expert knowledge and exceptional value to our customers. With market- leading brands in our portfolio including Formica, Laminex, Melteca, Caesarstone, Seratone and Strandfloor, Laminex New Zealand offers residential and commercial solutions for all interior spaces. From bench-tops and cabinetry, through to structural flooring, wall lining and commercial joinery, there are products available to meet all these application requirements.
Employing 213 staff, Laminex New Zealand has manufacturing facilities throughout New Zealand and prides itself on supporting the NZ building industry with strong industry associations and memberships. With one of the country’s best distribution networks, Laminex New Zealand has metropolitan and regional coverage ensuring the highest level of local support and service to its customers.