NZ carpet company 'baffled' by Ministry of Education decision

A New Zealand carpet company is "baffled" by the Education Ministry's decision to award a multi-million dollar contract to an offshore company when the Government claims to prioritise sustainability.

Inzide Commercial has been carbon-neutral certified for 16 years. It submitted a tender that included the cost of recycling its carpet tiles, but lost out to a US-based company that will supply carpet to 800 schools.

"We have a recycling programme, we're carbon zero certified and we thought when this came out 'yay finally someone in government understands what we're trying to do out here,'" Inzide Commercial owner and managing director Steve Aschebrock said.

Inzide made two tenders, one of $7.5 million and another of $9.6 million for thicker carpet.

Instead, US-based Miliken won the $8 million dollar contract.

"Baffling. We've been here 25-26 years. We've got 22 employees around the country," Aschebrock said.

Inzide's carpet tiles are imported but the backing is made from natural ingredients like wood flour and pine tree resin that have absorbed more Co2 in their life than is emitted during their production process.

That balances out the carbon produced by the nylon carpet.

"To not be awarded that contract, I feel personally upset by the fact that we can't make the impact to the environment that we otherwise would've if we'd won it," Inzide commercial operations director Jarrod Langstone said.

In a statement, the Ministry of Education said its tender process had three main components: performance specifications, the supplier's approach to working with us and cost.

Based on that, the ministry said the American company had the highest score.

Sustainability was lower down the list of priorities, followed by durability, environmental impact and ongoing supply and maintenance.

Inzide said they priced the cost of recycling the carpet into their tender bid.

"It does cost us. We're at the arse end of the world so it does cost us another $4 to $5 a square metre to get it back overseas, versus a dollar to dump it in landfill," Aschebrock said.

"When you look at the weighting of the tender document that came out, it was heavily weighted to sustainable business product, recycling, carbon," Langstone said.