Staying true to our own values, we believe that a natural and healthy product should also include being safe for the environment across the board.
This includes the whole path from the planting of our rubber tree seeds, to the transportation of the white gold known as latex to our grounds, our unique production process, the long lifecycle of our premium product, and even the afterlife of Vita Talalay latex.
We believe that we should give Mother Nature back more than she has already given us. Of course, we are aware that we need to continuously improve. There is still a long road ahead to becoming sustainable and healthy, but we want to make sure we share our efforts.
As a company we have always shared the same values as the Cradle-to-Cradle® institute. As a matter of fact, we have even been awarded with the Cradle-to-Cradle® GOLD certification as the first company in the mattress industry.
Important to mention is also that we have been awarded with the GOLD certification twice in a row as we continue to improve our sustainability efforts across every Cradle-to-Cradle Quality Category. One of their five Quality Categories is Renewable Energy and Carbon Management.
The institute requires a company to envision a future where the whole manufacturing process is powered by 100% clean and renewable energy. We are working hard to achieve that. As of 2017, we are running 100% on renewable, green and clean electricity.
We have made the conscious choice in terms of corporate social responsibility to fully use the green wind energy from an offshore Belgian wind farm. The wind farm is called C-Power.
It is located on the Thornton Bank in the North Sea. None of the windmills produce any CO2 emissions. This means we truly run on pure and clean renewable wind energy. For proof, we have received the Certificate of European Wind in early 2017.
In connection with the same Cradle-to-Cradle Quality Category, Renewable Energy and Carbon Management, Vita Talalay has also made great steps forward. At first, our aim was to become carbon-neutral. This means that we would take up just as much CO2 as we produce. While we were very happy to see that we achieved that fairly early on, we thought that it would be a great idea to take this a step further. After all, we want to give Mother Nature back more than we take.
Vita Talalay is climate-positive!
This means that we uptake significantly more CO2 than we produce. In other words, you could also say “carbon-negative”! We have also made an ecological footprint calculation for you to make our efforts and results clearer.
Following the method of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, we calculated that you will uptake 4000 g/ 8.8 lbs of CO2 for a two person mattress that you buy with our product inside. By purchasing any of our products, you will not only sleep better – you will do this knowing you did not impact the planet.
How did we do that you ask?
There were two major aspects to this major environmental leap:
1. The rubber tree does more than give us latex
The rubber tree has more than one use. On the one hand, it gives us our main raw ingredient, which is pure natural latex. On the other hand, it can also be used for carbon offset. The rubber tree is capable of fixing approximately 1 metric ton of CO2 during its 30 year lifecycle. Therefore, a hectare which usually includes about 300 rubber trees, takes up a minimum of 300 metric tons of CO2 during a single lifecycle. In addition, about 23 metric tons per hectare is also taken away from the tree as rubber or latex during its 30-year lifespan. Finally, quite some CO2 is also taken up by the fallen leaves of the rubber tree.
Thus, the rubber tree breeding program also has its merits In terms of CO2 uptake. Although some rubber trees are bred naturally, the majority of them are clones of the original hevea brasiliensis. The multifold yield has increased the CO2 uptake from 500 kg per hectare per year to about 3000 kg per hectare per year in the modern clones. Amazing isn’t it?
As a comparison, a passenger vehicle produces on average about 4.7 metric tons of CO2 per year. So on a yearly base 141 trees are needed to neutralize that CO2 effect. This number seems to have decreased since 2011, as it used to be 5.1 metric tons of CO2 per year for a passenger vehicle. We are happy to also take on the same journey as the automotive industry and many others. We wish to continuously improve on all ends when it comes to environmental impact.
2. CO2 Credits
Next to using natural latex for many of our products, we have purchased a large amount of CO2 credits from FSC certified rubber plantations in Guatemala. CO2 credits, also known as Carbon Credits, are a highly regulated form of exchange used to offset (or neutralize) carbon dioxide emissions. One single CO2 credit represents taking up one metric ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In total, we have purchased 650 Verified Carbon Credits (VCUs) from these responsible, fair and transparent Central American rubber plantations. In turn, this means that we have contributed in taking up 650 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is a voluntary effort that we do on a regular basis.
Plants and Wildlife
FSC and Rainforest Alliance certified sources
As mentioned briefly above, we choose our natural latex suppliers wisely. Our main criteria are that they have to be environmentally, socially and economically responsible, fair and transparent. Coincidently, these criteria overlap with those of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and Rainforest Alliance. This is why we have been certified by both institutions. We have the FSC certification, the FSC Chain of Custody certification, as well as the Rainforest alliance certification.
What this means for our choice in plantations is that we have chosen those who have a positive impact on the environment. We wanted those who have just as much of a sustainable and green vision as we do. We make no exceptions here.
These plantations do so in many ways. This includes water management, refraining from the use of banned fertilizers and pesticides according to FSC and Rainforest Alliance regulations, as well as responsible harvesting. By doing so, the plantations avoid any negative impact on local and surrounding soil, water and ultimately wildlife.
CO2OL Tropical Mix Afforestation and Reforestation Project in Panama
CO2OL is a German company which strives to improve degraded areas in an economic, social and ecologic way. They have reforestation and afforestation projects all around Central and South America.
One of those projects is the CO2OL Topical Mix Afforestation and Reforestation Project in Panama. This project is dedicated to the forests, climate, biodiversity and social living conditions in Panama. Vita Talalay supports this project by being certified with a reforestation area. By doing so, we stop surrounding plants and wildlife from being harmed. A great example of this would be the Ocelote. This wild cat has been marked as an endangered species due to deforestation. We help support maintaining its natural habitat and support the repopulation of this beautiful creature. The project has also provided the local population with employment opportunities and respective benefits, such as life insurance, an internal credit program, and so on.
As a matter of fact, this project has now been certified with the highest and most acknowledged international forestry and climate protection standards. The project is one of the first to be certified by one of the most well respected certification bodies for carbon offset projects, the Gold Standard.
In addition, we also have registered credits from CO2OL. In total, 588 metric tons of CO2 was reforested due to our efforts. This equals to about 3.9 hectares, or in even simpler words: about 4000 trees.
If you would like to learn more about this project, please click here!
We wash every single block of latex which we produce. You may assume that we use up significant amounts of water. However, as always, we do so with a clean conscience towards Mother Nature. In fact, we do so because we do not see water only as a precious resource. It is an essential human right. In 2015, we implemented a new wasted water installation which filters the water after every single wash of our natural comfort material.
As soon as the Vita Talalay latex blocks leave the mold by hand, they are placed on a conveyor belt. This brings them to a washing facility. For each queen size mattress (150x200x15cm/60”x80”x6”), we require 150L (40 gallons) of water. This ensures that our Vita Talalay latex blocks will be free from any impurities.
Instead of wasting the water we used in the washing process, we clean every single drop of it. In fact, once the water is purified, the municipality reuses it to make it into drinking water.
Once again, this can be proven by our Cradle-to-Cradle® GOLD certification. This is because one of their other five Quality Categories is Water Stewardship.
The rubber tree has a long and fruitful lifespan. The first two years are called the nursery stage. It is the time when the small plant grows into a full-fledged rubber tree. It is also only after the nursery stage that the hevea brasiliensis begins giving us the white gold known as latex. Although there are trees which have been able to give latex for up to 50 years, the average age of a rubber tree is about 30 years.
As it then stops providing us with natural latex, the trees are no longer interesting for us, right? Wrong!
Along with our partners at FSC, we have been in contact with several companies which require FSC certified wood for their products. As it turns out, rubber wood is an extremely long-lasting and durable type of wood – just like our Vita Talalay latex! This hard wood is perfect for high quality home furniture. This is a very recent project and we are looking forward to see the fruits that it will bear in the near future.
Future Vita Talalay efforts
Nutrient Management Strategy with Cradle-to-Cradle
Along with Cradle-to-Cradle, we have been developing a nutrient management strategy. Ultimately, this means that we have developed a method of upcycling our product. We will be able to reuse our Vita Talalay latex foam and create a new product lifecycle. Although it may still take some time before we will finally launch this project, you will hear more about our efforts.
In addition, we also encourage the final consumers of our product to bring their used Vita Talalay latex products to the have their mattress taken back. A lot of manufacturers and stores offer this. In addition, we also motivate our partners to implement so called “Take Back Programs”. This means that the brands themselves take the used Vita Talalay bedding products and make sure that they are recycled on a high quality level.
Further improve our renewable energy efforts
Although 100% of our electricity is already coming from a clean and pure source, we are still depending on gas for parts of our production process. A roadmap to decrease the use of gas has already been set up. This means that in the near future we will be decreasing the amount of gas usage within the production of our natural material. Looking further into the future, we aim to fully use renewable energy. No exceptions!
On our road to sustainability, we will continue to change and improve our efforts to make this world a better place the further our journey goes. Two things are sure: Firstly, we will always make sure to have the environment in mind when taking any further steps and improvements. Secondly, we will always ensure to provide you with the healthiest sleep possible with our natural comfort material. When we make promises, we keep them!