Hr Björkman’s Entrémattor (Entrance Mats) has an interesting environmental history. “We started the company over 20 years ago and we rent out and wash carpets. Environmental issues have always been an important component of our business strategy and we were first in Sweden in a number of areas. In 1999, we were the first laundry company to be certified according to ISO 14001, and the year after, it was time for environmental registration under EMAS,” says Carl-Johan Björkman, CEO of Hr Björkman Entrémattor.

“We considered early on the environmental impact of the vehicles that pick up and deliver rugs to customers, which adds up to great distances. In 2001 we bought our first gas car and then about ten years later, we fueled all ordinary cars with biogas or natural gas. In 2005, we became the first laundry in southern Sweden to be awarded the Nordic Ecolabel distinction. We have continued this work with a clear environmental profile through our processes, transport and services.”

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In 2013, as the first company outside North America, Hr Björkman Entrémattor was certified by the Clean Green standard. Clean Green focuses on companies that launder textiles. The criteria include reduced environmental impact through, for example, resource efficiency, lower emissions and by increasing recycling. The company’s efforts in the environmental area were highlighted in many ways and the latest was a nomination for the EMAS Awards 2014 where Hr Björkman Entrémattor competed for the Environment Award.

EMAS Awards

The European EMAS Award is the most prestigious award in environmental management and has been arranged for EMAS registered organizations since 2005. EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme), was established in 1993 by the European Commission to recognize environmental efforts among registered organizations around Europe.

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How did it go for Hr Björkmans? The company won the award in competition with contributions from the UK, Belgium, Ireland and Germany. “We are proud that an entrance mat laundry service from Malmö is involved in leading the development at a European level. This shows that anyone can join in and do their part and we hope to inspire others,” says Björkman.

The 2014 certification was entitled “Effective eco-innovation supporting improvements in environmental performance” and concentrated on cleantech. It was the company’s innovative laundry facility that in the category “Small companies” took home the victory. Hr Björkman has developed a closed system where up to 98 percent of the water in the washing process is recycled. The remainder evaporates and is replaced with rainwater collected from the plant’s large roof areas. This has resulted in substantial energy and water savings with less contaminated water.

Holistic approach to environmental efforts

“In 2005, we built a new laundry facility outside Malmö. In many ways it was a pioneering and we have gradually developed the washing process, “says Björkman. “The energy for the washing machine and the dryer comes from natural gas. The treated water is reused and because it has a temperature of about 30 ° C reduces the energy consumed in heating the wash water. The latest improvements to supplement the washing system has to do with how the water is oxygenated and the transition to biotechnical detergent.”

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This detergent is most effective at low temperatures and Hr Björkman has, as the first laundry in the world, chosen to use a method that is based on enzymes and proteins from natural microorganisms that break down and take care of the dirt in carpets. The method, according to the company’s tests proved more effective than traditional chemical-based detergents. “We buy washing powder from a small company in Canada called Innu-Science that specializes in biotechnological products. An interesting side effect of the biological cleaning process is that the carpet’s surface tension is affected. In practice, this means that it can suck up the dirt, something that benefits our customers,” says Björkman.

“We are trying to apply a holistic approach to our environmental work related to everything from driver training in eco-driving to high quality entrance mats, innovative washing systems and purchasing electricity from wind power. We also have a special entrance mat made of plastic from recycled PET bottles. It is called Sober Black and after 200 washes, you cannot tell the difference between a new and old carpet. This carpet illustrates how well business and environmental concerns can go hand in hand.”

The article was published in June 2014