Green or greenwashing? The truth about laminate flooring.

by Bill Dearing, President, NALFA

Visit any flooring department today and you’ll see a plethora of green colored signage—in fact, you have to look hard to find any display that doesn’t indicate, at the bare minimum, that a product will not cause adverse environmental impact. Some claims even make promises of saving the planet. So how does a consumer recognize overstating and greenwashing? What do the claims really mean? Is laminate flooring really “green”?

To answer the question about laminate flooring’s “greenness”, we’ll focus only on our NALFA Regular and Associate Member’s products — and with good reason. Unless a product is tested to NALFA standards, it cannot make claims about its relative performance to these standards with any certainty.

The first concerns of a shopper usually are the features and benefits, with sustainability now at the top of the list. When laminate flooring was introduced to North America in 1993, it was significantly ahead of most other flooring in environmental sustainability. It originated in Sweden who was striving towards “green” at least eight years before sustainability hit the average North American’s radar screen. The manufacturing process was extremely efficient in its time in order to make prices competitive, which in turn kept sourcing and production steps at a minimum. Finally, the product’s life cycle ended with further recycling of most of its components, or used as approved heating fuel or farming additives.

The Scandinavian consumer considered environmental recognition important and when a company was awarded the Scandinavian Green Swan for example, its logo was extensively promoted. Indoor air quality was linked to environmental concerns and once again, laminate flooring came through. Reported as superior to other flooring by various country’s health departments in this regard, Laminate Flooring rapidly replaced other options in these countries. By the way, “Laminate” refers to the tiniest component of a NALFA Member’s product which is the environmentally friendly protective cover that you can’t see yet gives well made Laminate Flooring its distinctive benefits of Wear, Fade and Stain.

NALFA Certified Laminate Flooring continues this tradition. For example, all of our Members’ products are CARB compliant. We invite anyone to visit www.nalfa.com for a complete update of our Green Standard initiative as well as a list of our Members, both Regular and Associate. From there, you may further link to our member’s sites where you will find that most have been awarded significant environmental recognition. A core NALFA belief is in our transparency; no smoke and mirrors, and never any deceptive statements.

It takes an effort for a company to claim genuine NALFA Certification and anyone concerned with sustainability (consumers, architects, dealers, installers, etc.) can visit our site and be directed easily to the standards that back up our NALFA Certification process. The NALFA certification seal, which gives a shopper and dealer assurance of quality and suitability, is proudly displayed by every NALFA member. And yes, it is “green”.

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