Recycling Programs Collect Vinyl Flooring from Construction Sites, Old Buildings

HOUSTON, March 20, 2008 – In the escalating push to divert material from landfills, vinyl flooring manufacturers are collecting installation waste from construction sites and even experimenting with reclaiming old used vinyl flooring.

Houston-based Tarkett Inc. has launched a local pilot program to reuse old vinyl flooring. “If it has been installed in the last ten years, we might be able to reuse it, depending on the original adhesives,” said Diane Martel, vice president of marketing. In one project, completed last week, 800 square feet of used vinyl composite tile was removed from an office building in downtown Houston and sent to Tarkett’s plant nearby, along with more than 13,000 square feet of unused tile left over from the same renovation.

Tarkett began its collection program six years ago—the first in North America—and over the past two years, the company has recycled over 100,000 pounds of resilient flooring, collected mainly from building sites. Martel explained that the company supplies on-site translucent collection bags for clean Tarkett sheet and tile installation waste, ships the material back to the plant and adds it directly to the mix. “None of the collected material is landfilled,” she said. Any material that cannot be used in manufacturing is sent to a company that incorporates it into roadbeds.
The biggest challenge is to persuade contractors to participate. “Although many contractors now have policies on recycling, they concentrate on carpeting,” Martel said. “Recycling hard surfaces is in its infancy.” 

Also gearing up a recycling/reclamation program, Centiva, based in Florence, Ala., plans to collect its used resilient flooring from any location between Alabama and Toronto and return it to its own plant to be made into new flooring. Rhonda Ross, executive vice president, business development, explained that, for used Centiva resilient flooring in the rest of the country, the company will work with the carpet industry’s extensive recycling/collection network to have the material recycled into vinyl carpet backing. For either option, she explained, a phone call to Centiva will set the process in motion.

Vinyl flooring makers minimize waste by routinely feeding their manufacturing scrap back into their mix, a process called “pre-consumer” recycling. At Mannington Mills, headquartered in Salem, N.J., the company’s resilient flooring operations and carpet manufacturing are often part of the same recycling loop. Vinyl resilient flooring often contains manufacturing scrap not only from individual hard-surface product processes, but also from the carpet-making operation, where a substantial part of the product is vinyl backing. The resilient flooring mix also can include material that Mannington collects in its aggressive drive to reclaim “post-consumer” used carpet.

The effort to recycle resilient flooring has been a two-step process at Mannington. Dave Kitts, vice president-environment, explained that initially, the company developed Relay, a commercial sheet vinyl product that contained 40 percent recycling content, solely from in-plant carpet scrap. Having perfected the re-use process, Mannington recently developed Relay ™ RE, which contains 15 percent in-plant scrap and 20 percent used carpeting or installation waste.