We rise above regulations to prepare for tomorrow’s challenges

In the latest interview of our series, we hear from Jens Van Rompaey from Unilin, who explains why using certified timber is vital in today’s world, and why Unilin chose PEFC certification.

We rise above regulations to prepare for tomorrow’s challenges

2 February 2022 Certification on the ground

Natural rubber is a commodity essential to our modern life. As consumers become more environmentally conscious, we see a growing demand for certified rubber, but also rubberwood – the timber from the rubber tree.

Rubber trees have a productive life of up to 35 years. Once that life is over, they provide value to plantation owners in the form of rubberwood. Unilin Group is among the first movers taking a step to improve the sustainability of the rubber value chain by using rubberwood for its high value flooring.

Today we hear from Jens Van Rompaey, General Manager of Unilin Flooring Wood Division, who explains why using certified timber is vital in today’s world, and why Unilin chose PEFC certification.

Can you give us a brief introduction to your company and its position in the market?

Covering 15 powerful brands, and with 105 locations worldwide, Unilin manufactures smart and sustainable home living solutions including flooring, paneling and insulation.

We are a dominant global market player that stands for quality and innovation, and we are committed to sustainability. Unilin seeks to change people’s everyday life by creating enduring beauty.

In the context of timber/forest-based product sourcing, what is your company’s goal?

Unilin currently sources rubberwood for our parquet flooring, which is produced close to the source at our facility in Malaysia. 

Its characteristics are very suitable for flooring products. Rubberwood has inherent sustainability because it is close to the production site, and it is harvested after it is overage for latex products.

We are currently sourcing “controlled sources” rubberwood in Malaysia and Southern Thailand. But our aim is to source 95% certified sustainable rubberwood by 2027.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your background? What are your main responsibilities within the company?

As General Manager I oversee Unilin’s Flooring Wood Division. I have been with the company for over six years, in a variety of roles but all related to the supply chain. I started my employment at Unilin as a supply chain engineer.

When did Unilin obtain its PEFC chain of custody certificate?

Unilin has had a relationship with PEFC since 2005. We currently have PEFC chain of custody certifications at 19 different production sites in many countries, such as Belgium, Italy, France, Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Malaysia, Ukraine, Sweden, Switzerland…

What led you to choose PEFC certification?

For Unilin, availability is what determines our certification choice. We have both FSC and PEFC certifications, and we make the determination on a source-by-source basis for each certification. That means that the PEFC certifications we hold were chosen because PEFC made the most sense and was most available for the source material in question.

How has PEFC certification benefited your company and helped achieve your goals?

Unilin is committed to sustainability and to treating wood as a long-term, durable way to store carbon. As a key player in the flooring industry, we take our responsibility seriously and rise above regulations to prepare for tomorrow’s challenges as well.

In our Onehome project, Climate Smart, Circular at heart, we aim to have 95% of input material certified, and we believe PEFC fits into this vision. Moreover, the European and Scandinavian market are pushing towards certified and environmentally friendly solutions. Not complying with these requirements will result in being excluded from supplying any goods.

What does it mean for you personally to work for a company that takes its responsibility for forests seriously?

For me, personally, Unilin is more than just a job. I like to work for an employer that is aligned with my personal beliefs and moral values. Due to my passion for wood and strong belief for improved sustainability management, I am delighted to work for a company like Unilin, one that takes their responsibility seriously and pushes for more sustainable forestry management.


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