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Edouard de la Cotardière: 'In 11 years we have collected the equivalent of 11 Eiffel Towers!'

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Edouard de la Cotardière: 'In 11 years we have collected the equivalent of 11 Eiffel Towers!'

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Since 1880, Tarkett has specialized in floor and surface coverings. If the last two years the DIY sector has experienced an upturn, it also had to adapt to new societal and environmental constraints. Edouard de la Cotardière, VP Marketing & Digital EMEA at Tarkett explains to us the need of a more circular industry.

What transformation topic is  the current focus of Tarkett today?

Our transformation topic of the moment is mainly focused around the transition to a decarbonized economy. We want to move towards a more responsible construction industry, with the goal of becoming a zero-carbon industry, in line with the Paris Agreements. Especially since our company has been a pioneer in the transition to a true circular economy, a strategy based on three pillars:

  • The eco-design of our products, a major challenge : We develop recyclable products and select raw materials whose health and environmental impacts are assessed by third parties, in order to have healthy solutions, which for example contribute to good air quality, beyond the most demanding standards in Europe.
  • The integration of recycled content : (from flooring or related industries) in the composition of our products. We were also the first to directly recycle our products at the end of installation or end of use. For this last point, Tarkett has been a pioneer within our Industry in the circularity of some of our product categories.
  • The collection of installation offcuts and end-of-life products : This is an essential part of our commitment to a more responsible, low carbon industry. This program has a name at Tarkett, ReStart. We have already collected the equivalent of 11 Eiffel Towers (112,000 tons) of flooring for recycling in the last 11 years and reduced our carbon emissions by 27% in the last 2 years.

Another pillar that we could mention concerns the traceability of products. A dedicated solution is being developed through new digital technologies, which will allow the identification of the product and its composition, in other words the identity card of the product.

Today, thanks to digital tools such as CRM, we have project histories. But product traceability is a real challenge to improve the quality and performance of used product recovery, and therefore of the circular economy in our industry.

- Edouard de la Cotardière, VP Marketing & Digital EMEA (Tarkett) 
 

Could you elaborate on what you consider to be the most important aspect of this sustainable transformation at Tarkett?

It is exactly what we do to be a recycling player. We are constantly looking for new sources of products to recycle. What is very important to understand is that we are not limited by our capacity to recycle but rather by the difficulty to find on the market the contents or to organize with the building companies the return of used products that we could recycle.

As I mentioned, we were the first flooring company to implement circular ecosystems for our products. Concrete examples of the circular economy where we put waste from other industries back into our production process: we collect calcium carbonate, a residue from the water treatment industry and used fishing nets that we manage to recycle into our carpet tiles.

We are not lacking imagination, but proactively looking for new content to recycle. Tomorrow, the water bottle could very well be a major new component, and PET could be a very suitable component for our flooring solutions.

- Edouard de la Cotardière, VP Marketing & Digital EMEA (Tarkett) 

Tarkett was the first company to implement technologies that allow post-use recycling of the product. When we talk about our products, we no longer talk about end of life but end of use. Indeed, they are all eco-designed to be one day recycled and reintegrated into our production process.

However, this process requires a significant amount of detection work in order to identify components or materials that no longer comply with the industry's new regulations from the pool of soils installed several decades ago.

We are working on this with our research and innovation teams. It's our responsibility to be able to identify them, and then process them. We are able, for example, to recover most of the carpet tiles and reintegrate them into our production processes. 

We are currently implementing ambitious investment programs to further develop the possibilities of recycling all types of end-of-life flooring. By avoiding the extraction of raw materials and the incineration of end-of-life products, the recycling of used floor coverings allows us to reduce carbon emissions and move towards net zero carbon. 

It is also necessary to reduce the share of non-renewable materials used in building materials. 70% of the materials we use are either recycled materials, abundant materials or raw materials with a rapid renewal cycleThe choice of the materials that will be used to create the products of tomorrow constitutes one of the major axes of the Tarkett's strategy with the objective of being an exemplary actor in the field of circular economy.

What do you think will be the trend in your industry in 2022? And why?

The last two years have been particularly difficult because of the pandemic, with a real break in the value chain in our Industry. As a result, the trend in 2022 is inevitably linked to the acceleration of omnichannelity in our distribution model. Two years ago, it was hardly conceivable to buy your floor online, whereas today e-commerce has developed strongly. This is a real break with what we used to know.

70% of floor distributors in Europe have invested in digital distribution channels. There has been a change in model that has resulted by new customer experience, whose expectations have also evolved.

The entire logistics chain is undergoing a real break with this evolution of the distribution model, with the objective of making the floor covering easily transported to the customer while respecting short delivery times.  The customer's purchasing path has also changed with the online sale of decoration items.

Flooring is a very emotional product that the customer needs to see and touch, so the challenge is to reproduce this need via digital. DIYs are accelerating on this subject. For example, Phygital adapted to our products will also be a trend to follow as some DIY groups will reinvent the role and structure of their physical points of sale.

At Tarkett, the omnichannel approach has been implemented in two phases :

  • In 2017-2018 we had started to develop the digital distribution channel by forging partnerships with DIYs such as Leroy Merlin as well as some Pure Players. Indeed, we were already convinced that within 10 years the online channel would be essential in the distribution of products.
  • Once the pandemic had taken hold, we accelerated this transformation by setting up our own digital platform to digitalize customer interaction and by expanding the number of partnerships.
In the next five years, we are going to experience a major transformation of our distribution models. The traditional distribution channels will not disappear, but the balance will change with the digitalization of the customer experience

- Edouard de la Cotardière, VP Marketing & Digital EMEA (Tarkett) 

To conclude on digitalization, there are still many opportunities to be seized to adapt the customer experience to this new distribution model and always better satisfy the end customer.

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Edouard de la Cotardière

For the past 10 years, Edouard de la Cotardière has held several positions within Tarkett, steering the Group's mergers and acquisitions before moving to Spain and becoming General Manager of the Iberian zone. Since 2020, he is VP Marketing & Digital EMEA where he is in charge of product strategy, communication and sustainable development while leading the digital transformation.

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