The executive team at Treeco recently sat down to review and update our sustainability policy. For many years, while we had done our best to use good and formaldehyde-free products, we didn’t look at the whole picture of sustainability.
According to the United Nations, sustainability means many things – not only in how we use the earth’s natural resources, but also in considering how we affect the people we do business around the world, and the communities in which we sell.
While we have always held the hardwood products we sell to the highest environmental standards (not just the Canadian minimums), we are now moving beyond this to consider our sustainability impact on a broader scale, which we have grouped into three main areas:
LIFE ON LAND. Considers areas such as our office/warehouse space, pollution, low waste, water usage, minimize travel/transportation, sustainable materials within products, energy use.
DECENT AND ECONOMIC GROWTH. Considers whether our employees and/or contractors have decent jobs and good living standards. Good pay, working hours, bonuses, fair trade, buying local, safety conditions.
SUSTAINABLE CITIES & COMMUNITIES. Considers whether we give back to the community via charitable causes, hiring local, and keeping our team safe with COVID-19 policy.
LIFE ON LAND
Treeco is working to improve our “Life on Land” sustainability as follows:
We buy mainly from North American and European-harvested hardwood. These areas are not clear-cut; but very carefully harvested with stringent laws. We also sell exotic species from South America. We only deal with importers who deal in legal wood from certified cutting operations. We do not sell wood from depleting forests.
Our in-house brands of Timeless and Gemcore are Floorscore certified for their indoor air quality – this ensures below-minimum levels of Formaldehyde. This means they also meet green building standards such as LEED v4, WELL, BREEAM, CHPS, and Green Globes.
A few specialty brands are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, such as our German finish and our white oak from Poland. This certification doubles or triples the cost of the flooring, but if sustainability is a foremost concern for you, we encourage you to consider these options.
Timeless hardwood floors have a 25-year warranty on their finish, so they are a high-quality flooring that will not end up in a landfill after a short time.
The wood flooring products we sell are biodegradable.
LVT products (luxury vinyl tile) products are not biodegradable because they contain PVC. We sell them because many customers require lower-cost products, but we do try to steer them away from these whenever possible.
For other flooring brands we carry, we do independent, third-party testing of chemical content on a random basis at least every 6 months. This is because not all brands are certified. If a floor fails an indoor air-quality test, we return it to the vendor.
We have a supplier screening checklist to ensure new brands meet our sustainability standards. With this process we check items such as where they are sourcing their raw materials, their environmental standards, their warranties, references and more.
We also visit new flooring suppliers personally to assure ourselves of their manufacturing and sustainability standards. If we cannot check in person, we use well-reputed agents to do this for us. We have worked with our agents many years and they understand our standards.
We attend the National Wood Flooring Association tradeshows each year to ensure we are up on the latest standards/policies for indoor air quality and environmental safety.
FINISHES AND MAINTENANCE PRODUCTS
Our main brand of floor finish – Bona – is the first in the industry to offer a full system of GreenGuard Gold Certified hardwood floor finishing.
We strive to use green cleaning products in our locations.
Unfortunately, each shipment of hardwood uses a plastic wrap, which is made new every time and not recyclable. The plastic is 2 mil clear. We are currently investigating recycling or repurposing options for this.
Hardwood also comes packed in cardboard boxes. This is fully recyclable, and we send it all for recycling.
Sometimes we have extra, discontinued floor planks. We donate these to training centres for our trade.
The paint and finishes we use sometimes expire or are no longer sellable. We pay the necessary fees to have this correctly disposed of.
We do not dispose of anything down the drain or into the water system.
While we do not compost food at our offices, we do not use disposable dishware. We do recycle and return our bottles and any recyclable food packaging.
OPERATIONAL FOOTPRINT (OFFICE, WAREHOUSE)
As an Alberta-based company, we buy energy produced within the province.
Our computer systems have reduced paper to almost zero; we no longer mail invoices. We shred and recycle any remaining office paper.
Our forklifts are almost all electric, and we are replacing our remaining propane forklifts gradually.
We use LED lighting in almost all areas within our spaces and are replacing non-LED lighting as it wears out. We will soon have 100% LED throughout. Old fluorescent lighting is locally recycled in Calgary. We are currently seeking fluorescent tube recyclers for our other offices.
The water our staff consumes is from the local tap, and we use a reverse-osmosis system to purify it. This avoids us trucking in water.
All our offices are on accessible bus routes. We allow bicycle-commuting employees to store their bicycles safely indoors.
DECENT & ECONOMIC GROWTH
At Treeco, we excel in ensuring equitable opportunity and working conditions for everyone we do business with. The following are how we support our employees and vendors in earning a sustainable living.
Our employees work Mondays thru Fridays, 7:00am – 4:00pm, regardless of whether office or warehouse staff.
We pay at or above industry standard.
We have gender and ethnic diversity throughout the company, with women participating in warehouse, sales, and executive roles.
We require only a high-school level education, and additionally cover the cost of forklift training and safety training.
While we do not practice affirmative action, we are open to best candidates regardless of race, religion, or gender. For us, attitude and reliability are more important than any other qualities.
We offer 2 weeks of vacation for new employees up to 2 years, 3 weeks for employees up to 4 years, 4 weeks for employees up to 9 years, and 5 weeks vacation for employees over 10 years.
If employees wish to take longer work breaks, such as a 6-month sabbatical, we are open to negotiating this with a full return to their position.
We have a full health and dental benefits plan for all employees starting after 3 months employment.
We advance people to executive positions from within the company.
We encourage employees to further their education. Depending on the relevancy of the courses, will contribute to or cover these costs.
We are extremely transparent with our financials to our employees. All know and understand our revenues, expenses, and bonus schemes, which are equal for all.
We allow our sales team to have flexibility with margins when they are quoting, and when necessary.
We provide the employees discounts on buying the products we sell.
We give each employee a $500/year fitness credit should they wish to have a gym membership, fitness classes, equipment (bicycles, etc.), or recreational sport fees.
We supply branded attire for employees, and safety gear. We also provide $100/employee credit to purchase steel-toed boots for warehouse workers.
We have a dedicated manager for Health, Safety and Environment.
SUPPLIERS AND AGENTS
We check references of all suppliers and contractors.
Whenever possible, we visit the mills from which we buy our floors to ensure there are good working conditions and no child or forced labour is being used. We strive to do this every two years as a minimum.
As mentioned above, if we cannot check in person, we use well-reputed agents to do this for us. We have worked with our agents many years and they understand our standards.
As mentioned above, we attend the National Wood Flooring Association tradeshows each year to ensure we are up on the latest standards/policies for indoor air quality and environmental safety.
SUSTAINABLE CITIES & COMMUNITIES
Treeco is working to improve our active role in the communities where we operate. We hire locally in each market where we operate. In addition, we are involved in supporting local causes and in keeping the community safe through our COVID-19 policy, as follows:
Donating excess and used attire to charities.
Donating space to local amateur sports clubs.
As we do profit sharing with employees, we do not make significant charitable contributions as a company, instead allowing our employees to make their own personal donations. This maximizes the bonuses our employees receive, so that if needed, they can better support their families.
Each year our ownership team supports the following charitable causes: United Way and Mustard Seed.
We have installed Plexiglas shields to ensure safety between staff and customers.
We allow paid sick days, and have an “If you’re sick, stay home!” policy.
We do not mandate COVID vaccination, but our staff is nearly 100% fully vaccinated.
All staff must be masked at work.
While Treeco is doing many things to improve our sustainability, we recognize that we have further to go. If you have any suggestions to advance our progress, please contact us. We would love to have your input.