Desso has developed a new material stream for its carpet tiles based on a partnership with a group of drinking-water companies

In a bold new move on the transformational journey to the circular economy, Desso, a leading global carpets and sports-pitches company, has developed a new material stream for its carpet tiles based on a partnership with a group of drinking-water companies in the Netherlands.

As a Cradle to Cradle company, Desso is committed to developing products that can be brought back and recycled in a non-toxic closed loop, the foundation for a regenerative circular economy. Through a rigid C2C assessment process, Desso strives to ensure its products consist of healthy materials, positive for human health and for the planet. The company vision is to develop environmentally responsible products that contribute to the health and well-being in the built environment. This commitment to material health ensures that Desso realizes this vision while its goods are in use and when they are being recycled.

In collaboration with Reststoffenunie, an association of drinking-water companies in the Netherlands, Desso has found a way to upcycle re-engineered calcium carbonate (chalk) from local drinking water companies such as Brabant Water and WML (Water Maatschappij Limburg). The chalk is positively defined in accordance with C2C criteria and is used for the production of Desso’s carpet tiles with EcoBase backing, which is C2C Silver certified and 100 per cent recyclable in Desso’s own production process.

The result of this new innovation is that Desso’s products with EcoBase backing will now contain on average 50 per cent positively defined recycled content.

Says Alexander Collot d’Escury, CEO of Desso, “This new development is a hugely exciting step forward in our vision to become a Cradle to Cradle company developing products that meet high standards of creativity, functionality and are also positive to human health and the planet.”

Adds Guïljo van Nuland, CEO of Brabant Water, “The concept of recycling our waste as a material stream for Desso’s process fits perfectly with our status as the first climate-neutral drinking water company in Europe. We are proud that our calcium granules contribute so positively to Desso’s Cradle to Cradle carpet tiles.”

Finally, Ria Doedel, CEO of WML, says: “More than 99 per cent of our waste materials, especially iron and calcium, is now recycled. The innovations in this area are increasing and sometimes surprising. Our co-operation with Desso is a great example of this.”

Desso is the first carpet company in the world to use the upcycled calcium carbonate (chalk), co-created by Desso’s R&D team and its partners in the water industry. It expects to draw as much as 20,000 tonnes of chalk from this circular economy waste stream for its carpet tiles in partnership with the Dutch water companies. Desso has also launched its new Transitions collection with this positively defined recycled content.

According to recent research the circular economy in total could generate one trillion dollars a year in cost savings globally through a smarter use of material streams.

Desso is a member of the collaborative network, the Circular Economy 100, organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation; and Desso’s CEO Alexander Collot d’Escury is a member of the steering committee of Project MainStream, a cross-industry circular-economy project organized by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

“In Cradle to Cradle philosophy, consistent and positively defined material streams are treated as nutrients for the technological or biological spheres,” says Ludwig Cammaert, Desso’s chief of R&D. “Our first task was to design the Desso EcoBase carpet tiles so that they could be disassembled when taken back in the post-consumer stage.”

The next stage was to look for new circular innovations, adds Cammaert: “We are always looking for ways to utilize consistent waste streams as a nutrient for the production of our carpet tiles today.”

In this case, he adds, R&D at Desso spotted along with its partners a way to use material streams from the drinking-water industry, a completely different sector. The drinking-water process leaves a residual of calcium carbonate after it has softened groundwater, a necessary step to make it suitable for drinking. In addition, soft water increases the life span of home appliances, as it reduces chalk deposits and therefore requires less cleaning.

“We had some challenges, but with the strong commitment and support of all the partners we were able to overcome them,” Cammaert says. “Also with the help of Sibelco, an advanced global industrial minerals supplier, the calcium carbonate particle size and particle size distribution was tailored to Desso’s requirements, making this a true innovation in the value chain process.”

The process utilises a material stream that might otherwise have ended up in less valuable outlets; and by sourcing and processing this material stream locally, Desso and its partners could ensure it had a positive impact on the environment, and demonstrate perfectly how circular economy thinking can be brought into practice driven by Cradle to Cradle principles.


Desso is a global carpets, carpet tiles and sport-pitches company, active in more than 100 countries. Desso products are supplied to corporate offices, education, healthcare, government, homes and also hotels, cruise liners and airlines.

It also produces world leading sports surfaces such as the DESSO GrassMaster, which has been installed at the home grounds of premier football sides and at the football “temple” Wembley.

Today, most people spend on average 90 per cent of their time indoors which has led to the company’s vision: “How to make the floor work for our health and wellbeing.” Its mission is to ensure that the company develops unique products that deliver a much improved indoor environment that maximises people’s health and well-being and ultimately their performance. Desso’s innovation program is based on the three pillars of Creativity, Functionality and Cradle to Cradle design.

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