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Corporate Social Responsibility

AW chooses corporate social responsibility as an engine for sustainable growth

At Associated Weavers (AW), we are convinced that real growth can only be sustainable. True to our pioneering nature, we consciously take the lead on environmental, climate, safety, and welfare issues. Our action plans guarantee this, generating results that prove we are on the right track.



Corporate social responsibility: from obvious choice to concrete plan

We believe it is possible to make an impression with your interior design while having a minimal impact on the planet and with maximum consideration for its inhabitants. That's why corporate social responsibility is AW's driving force and the engine of the growth that we aim to achieve, together with our customers and partners.

We strive to avoid half-hearted solutions and greenwashing. Instead, we set to work wholeheartedly, with the core of our being, bringing our powers of innovation and unbridled creativity to bear. Rather than simply adapting to rapidly changing realities, we endeavour always to be one step ahead of the needs of our customers and of the planet.

In this video, you will learn more about what growth really means to AW

 

We fully realize that doing good for people and the environment cannot be achieved with a single snap of the fingers, but requires many actions in all aspects of our business. Success is also only possible if everyone participates - employees, customers, partners, suppliers, etc. - and we all think and move in the same direction.

We embody this commitment in charters and make short- and longer-term plans, with concrete actions that can be measurably evaluated:

  1. We're committed to playing an active role in research projects aimed at sustainable energy solutions and pursuing techniques for making end-products that are easier to recycle.
  2. We're already doing what we can today, by constantly fine-tuning our production processes and giving sustainability pride of place in our product development.
  3. Low-emission products and products with an ever greater proportion of recycled materials feature prominently in our flooring collections.
  4. Because sustainability is a matter of partnership, we promote the principles of sustainable business to our employees, suppliers and customers.
  5. For us, concern for a sustainable future for the planet is inseparable from concern for the well-being and safety of all, with special consideration for people in difficult situations.

Sustainable Entrepreneurship

 

Every year, we translate these commitments into a concrete action plan, which we check against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We submit the results to an external expert agency, which independently assesses our efforts.

In 2023, the positive impact of our actions earned us the title of laureate of the 'VOKA Charter for Sustainable Entrepreneurship' for the first time (VOKA being the Flemish Association of Entrepreneurs). 

This recognition from the entrepreneurial network is an invaluable asset for the partnerships that we are building internationally, and an incentive to continue along the path we have taken.

To be truly responsible in business, it is necessary to take action here and now, but also to think ahead. For this reason, AW actively participates in research projects that will eventually make the textile and flooring industry increasingly sustainable:

Sustainable production starts with a meticulous analysis of the production process, and a commitment to continuous improvement. After all, it is the many, sustained interventions in the process that together result in ever cleaner production, with less and less waste and with ever smaller greenhouse gas emissions. This is not only good for the environment and the climate, but is also cost-efficient at the same time. You can read how we are taking all steps of the process in hand in our sustainability brochure, in which we also share the measurable results and targets for the coming years. [link to sustainability brochure] The following actions definitely stand out:

  • Using energy responsibly means making a concerted effort on a number of fronts. Firstly, we are reducing the consumption of gas and electricity by calibrating production processes - such as dyeing, steaming and drying - ever more finely. We also recover the heat released during production and ensure that most of the necessary electricity is green-generated in our own solar plant.
  • As regards water too, the first step is to reduce consumption. Used water, after purification in our own water treatment plant, is reused on the production site.
  • We also take measures to avoid waste as much as possible. Where that is not possible, recycling is the first choice. Our collaboration with Innovate Recycle in Northampton proves that reusing raw materials is ecologically and economically very valuable.
  • Naturally, we use only responsible raw materials: no harmful substances are used in the production of our carpets. In doing so, we strictly follow the guidelines of GUT (Gemeinschaft Umweltfreundlicher Teppichboden – Association for environmentally friendly carpet).

 

That attention to sustainability pays off is proven by the figures: energy and water consumption as well as waste production have been significantly reduced in recent years. Besides focusing on our production processes, we also naturally intervene to make the product itself increasingly sustainable. Ecologically responsible carpet is steadily gaining a bigger place in AW's range:

 

In addition to carpets, AW also stocks luxury vinyl flooring, which can be found in the shop under the Invictus® brand. For these vinyl floors, too, we are resolutely committed to sustainability. They are produced responsibly, including by recycling vinyl material from production streams, which ensures that no raw materials are lost. It goes without saying that the floors are also completely free of harmful substances. No phthalates are used in production, only plasticizers made from natural soya bean extracts.  In addition, Invictus® vinyl flooring is reusable through take-back programmes, and can be recycled into other products, e.g. for the automotive sector.

People consciously looking for sustainable products when furnishing their interiors will definitely find what they are looking for at AW. But we’d also like to win over customers who do not yet have sustainability at the top of their shopping list. After all, corporate social responsibility also means highlighting products with the smallest ecological footprint and sharing transparent information on the life cycle of flooring collections.  Thus, AW aims to create a community that ponders and deliberates based on facts. To promote sustainable products, first of all, we make sure the retailer has all the arguments:

  • We developed the Product Carbon Footprint Calculator (PCFC), an exclusive tool that quickly and accurately shows the carbon footprint of each carpet, for the entire life cycle of the floor. We make these figures available to retailers so that they can transparently put their customers on the road towards sustainable flooring.
  • AW is a laureate of the 'VOKA Charter for Sustainable Entrepreneurship.' This provides the retailer with the assurance that the principles of corporate social responsibility   are permanently embedded in our business choices. After all, this certificate is awarded only to businesses that have and implement a concrete action plan, thus working towards attainment of the United Nations' sustainable development goals (SDGs).

 

Customers themselves can also easily make sure they have come to the right place for a sustainable interior. In brick-and-mortar shops, in the online store, via our website and on social media, we share technical information that helps make responsible choices:

  • Thanks to AW's own labels, you can very quickly spot the top sustainable items in the range when shopping. One glance at the Sedna® website or display, for example, is enough to discover that the brand is sustainable, thanks to the use of recycled materials.
  • Each floor comes with a detailed information sheet with data on quality aspects, such as wear resistance and thermal insulation properties. For all Sedna® brand carpets customers will also find an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) online so that you can immediately check the CO2 emissions and which recycled materials have been used.

 

Retailers and customers appreciate the fact that the AW collections are becoming increasingly sustainable, and this has not escaped the attention of influencers (@gracebeverley and @lucywatson) who have made sustainability their trademark. And advocacy groups also recognize the value of our efforts. In 2021, for example, the animal rights organization PETA awarded Sedna® - the AW carpet that saves sea life - a 'Vegan Homeware Award'.

In corporate social responsibility, not only every step in the process counts, but also every player. Therefore, AW involves every link to make its action plans a reality. Suppliers, customers, and, of course, all employees, come together for a sustainable goal. Raw materials, flooring, machinery, services, etc.: the suppliers AW works with are very diverse and present worldwide. But all meet the highest standards of quality, safety and ethics. We enshrine this promise in a code of conduct, to which all suppliers must subscribe. Through the efforts of our suppliers, and our own actions, we guarantee that our customers can in turn offer a sustainable AW product. To enable them to do so with assurance, we provide our customers with fully transparent information on the technical properties of our floors. We also invite them on tours of our production site, and provide product training to their sales teams.

AW teams are also committed to quality, safety and ethics. Through an open culture and transparent communication, we ensure connection among all employees, in all their diversity. Well-being and safety come first, and are a shared responsibility that we support with continuous improvement actions and policy plans. In doing so, we set ourselves measurable targets in our prevention and well-being policy and in employees' individual development plans. To achieve these goals, we invest heavily in training - on safety, sustainability, recycling, etc. - which ensures that everyone feels involved. This is how we make corporate social responsibility our common driver.

Corporate social responsibility means making choices that are good for the planet and its inhabitants. At AW, that means first and foremost paying attention to the well-being and safety of all employees. We are also mindful of the living environment of the neighbours of our production site: we keep noise and odour nuisance to a minimum. Together with all the teams, we also want to do good for those less fortunate. As a company, we sponsor social causes, and with the staff club 'Allez AW' we take on sporting and playful challenges to make a contribution to local projects close to our headquarters in Ronse, Belgium. In previous years, we supported the following organizations, among others:

 

Organizations working for the environment and climate can also count on AW's support. We make the carpets of our Sedna® brand with Econyl® yarn, a regenerated polyamide based on, among other things, ghost nets, which pollute the seas and threaten marine life. It is therefore only natural for us to partner with Healthy Seas, the association of volunteer divers who remove these ghost nets from the water so that they can be used as raw material for Econyl® yarn. Through our partnership, we fund both Healthy Seas' diving expeditions in the North Sea and Mediterranean, and their actions to raise awareness of water pollution in the fishing industry and among the general public. This inspired us to work with a school in Deinze, Belgium, to clean up the river Lys. During a canoe trip, pupils fished some 80 kilos of rubbish out of the water.