State of Sustainability 2021: The trend toward holistic and expansive sustainability strategies - Aug/Sept 2021

By Darius Helm and Jessica Chevalier

In the last few years, flooring firms have evolved and expanded their sustainability strategies. At one end, they are reevaluating their supply chains based on everything from use of raw materials to impacts on vulnerable communities. At the other end, they’re focusing on the health and wellness of the inhabitants of the spaces where their floors are specified. And to capture it all, they’re using more sophisticated and rigorous tools.

Well before the pandemic, health and wellbeing had emerged as key components of a balanced sustainability strategy. Thrown into sharp focus over the last 18 months, the importance of human health-and of buildings that can support and protect it-has never been higher. And social equity, another pillar of sustainability gaining traction in recent years, has been in the spotlight during this crisis.

Also in the headlines this summer and last is the actual physical environment. Wildfires in the West and in Canada, Hawaii, Australia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Siberia-all amplified by climate change-have sent shockwaves through the global community. And the report released earlier this month by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the first major review of climate change science since 2013, paints the most dire and grim picture yet of what lies ahead and notes that the only way to mitigate the worst impacts is through immediate coordinated global action.

In the flooring industry, incremental change on multiple fronts has continued to move the needle in the right direction, even though some of the biggest challenges still remain. When it comes to the big-picture components, the manufacturing of flooring products, in terms of intensity (as in, per pound of finished product), creates less waste than ever before; generates fewer greenhouse gas emissions; uses less water and less electricity; and uses more energy from renewable sources. More product is being reclaimed and reused. Innovative technologies are being leveraged to create greener flooring, to generate cleaner waste streams and to maximize manufacturing efficiencies. And more flooring companies are assessing their raw material streams for both environmental and social impacts.

Embodied carbon, which is essentially how much greenhouse gas has been emitted through the entire lifecycle of the product from raw material extraction all the way to end of life, has become an important metric in the flooring market, largely on the commercial side. And since embodied carbon can potentially be lowered anywhere along that route from cradle to grave, comprehensive evaluations have become an essential component of sustainability strategies for most of the larger manufacturers.

Dematerialization, particularly in carpet tile, has been an effective way of lowering carbon footprints, as has adding lower impact materials, and that generally includes bio-based and recycled ingredients-though it’s worth noting that, depending on how they are produced, both bio-based and recycled materials can have high embodied carbon. The leading firms, like Mohawk, Shaw and Interface, offer carbon-neutral and even carbon-negative products. All rely to some extent on carbon offsets to close the gap, and though the size of those gaps varies, all of these new products reflect significant and valuable green processes.

Combined, carpet and resilient flooring make up nearly 60% of the flooring market. And the two flooring categories have higher content of polymers than the other flooring categories. For a look at how the flooring industry is addressing reclamation and recycling of these products, see Recycling: Carpet & Resilient, starting on page 63 in the August/September issue of Floor Focus.

Younger generations, led by Gen Z (the oldest of whom are approaching their mid-20s) and Millennials (25 to 40), appear to be far more concerned about issues of environmental sustainability and social equity than the generations that preceded them, and they’re also more likely to make decisions based on these principles.

According to a Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted last April, addressing climate change is the top personal concern of 37% of Gen Zers and 33% of Millennials, with Gen X and Baby Boomers coming in around 28% each. And 32% of Gen Zers and 28% of Millennials have taken action to help address climate change within the last year, with Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in the low 20s.

Taking action could lead to purchasing green, though principles tend to abruptly evaporate when consumers reach for their wallets. For the last couple of decades, as the sustainability movement has roared through the commercial market, sustainability in the residential flooring market has never gained traction. While there are plenty of signs that younger consumers are prioritizing buying green, the needle has yet to move enough for flooring manufacturers to develop green programs like they have on the commercial side, where A&D and end users tend to elevate sustainability. (To be fair, though, commercial end users operate on a far larger scale than homeowners, where environmental impacts are much weightier and green principles are much more public.)

Social equity is of particular significance to Gen Zers, the most diverse U.S. population in history-not just in terms of ethnicity but also religion and other personal belief systems, not to mention gender identities. A survey by Porter Novelli, a global communications consultancy, indicates that 66% of Gen Zers believe it’s no longer acceptable for companies to be silent on social justice issues, and 72% believe that companies have more responsibility than ever before to address social justice issues.

Last year, the U.S. Green Building Council came out with its Safety First pilot credits, designed to help with building re-entry during the pandemic. The credits offer the most sustainable and healthy best practices in line with public health guidelines, including critical operations related to indoor air quality, water systems, cleaning and re-entry. There are already about 100 projects using the credits.

Another noteworthy program is LEED Zero, which verifies LEED projects with net zero carbon, energy, water and waste. LEED Zero Carbon is achieved with net zero carbon emissions from energy consumption through carbon emissions avoided or offset over a 12-month period; LEED Zero Energy verifies a source energy use balance of zero over 12 months; LEED Zero Water verifies a potable water use balance of zero over 12 months; and LEED Zero Waste is achieved with Green Business Certification Inc.’s True certification at the Platinum level.

USGBC’s new All In for Equity program includes a new equity framework for building projects to use. The program is designed to encourage people and organizations to incorporate social equity into all aspects of a project, including project teams, project planning and analysis, community engagement, design and supply chain.

By the end of 2020, there were more than 65,000 commercial and institutional projects with LEED certification and another 50,000 projects in the process, as well as over 673,000 certified residential units.

One significant development in sustainability relates to the investment community’s attempts to assess businesses in terms of their management of environmental and social equity issues, codified in ESG (environmental, social, governance) data disclosures. Importantly, financial investors aren’t just assessing a company’s potential impact on the environment but also the likely response by lenders, insurers and other investors down the road.

This new focus by investors is in part driven by anticipated shifts in investment philosophy by younger generations. World Wealth Report 2020 by Capgemini, a global consultant business, identifies Gen Zers and Millennials as the drivers of sustainability, reporting that “41% of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) younger than 40 are interested in sustainable investing as compared with 27% of HNWI respondents overall.”

In some ways, ESG represents an attempted formalization of the pillars of sustainability, though detractrors point out that there’s not enough consistency in ESG data and the ratings assigned to businesses, leaving the door wide open for a new era of greenwashing. According to a Wall Street Journal report earlier this month titled, “How Much Carbon Comes From a Liter of Coke? Companies Grapple With Climate Change Math,” ratings are inconsistent and incomplete. The article also notes, “A Wall Street Journal analysis of ESG grades issued for nearly 1,500 companies by three rating firms found that nearly two-thirds-942 companies-got different grades from different raters.”

The ESG movement represents a shift from looking after shareholders to looking after all stakeholders. And financial institutions increasingly rely on ESG reporting mechanisms that cover these myriad impacts and influences, from the Global Reporting Initiative to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board to the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure-which in turn drives businesses to adopt these standards.

Most of the large flooring firms now offer ESG criteria, using reporting tools like those listed above, largely driven by investor expectations, but also increasingly by customers’ requests for proposals and in competitive bidding processes.

According to Erin Meezan, VP and chief sustainability officer for Interface, referring to leading flooring producers, “We’ve all seen an increase in interest in ESG data from investors.” And in her response to what she considers the most important trend in sustainability, Ramie Vagal, Mohawk’s senior manager of sustainability, says, “Planet and human health, huge focus on ESG. Investment based on ESG.”

And while Kellie Bellew, Shaw’s VP of global sustainability, notes that the firm uses ESG guidelines for its annual sustainability reporting and materiality assessments, she also adds, “Our customers who are seeing increased investor requirements for ESG reporting may prioritize sustainability overall, but the type of operational information they may be asked to report rarely gets down to the level of flooring.”

The Resilient Floor Covering Institute has seen the resilient category transform in the last few years, as rigid LVT has surged into the market, tripling in size in less than 15 years, and the organization realized the need to control its perception in the market. To that end, it began working with the Shelton Group, which focuses on sustainability marketing, to get its message out there. Research on social media revealed that the category’s messaging on sustainability was inadequate. One step to overhauling perceptions has been a new campaign and slogan, “Beautifully Responsible.”

The campaign revolved around three pillars: Mindful Manufacturing looks at the various ways producers reduce their environmental footprint, from reducing energy, waste and water to recycling and using renewable energy and materials; Living Well is about health and wellbeing and covers indoor air quality certification and Assure Certified, the RFCI-spearheaded standard for rigid LVT; and Made for Life focuses on product performance and longevity.

Assure Certified, launched in May 2020 and developed with SCS Global, requires rigid LVT products to pass performance testing outlined in ASTM3261-17, as well as VOC testing, ortho-phthalate and heavy metal testing, and demonstration of quality control procedures through onsite audits.

Producers with Assure Certified products include Tarkett, HMTX (for the Aspecta, Halstead and Metroflor brands), Novalis, Karndean, Taizhou Huali, among others.



Georgia-headquartered carpet tile and rubber flooring manufacturer with LVT programs
• In 2020, introduced its first carbon-negative carpet tile through a retooling of its backing systems. CQuest GB replaced GlasBac, its PVC carpet tile backing, eliminating virgin content and offering pre- and post-consumer recycled content and bio-based additives; CQuest Bio, a PVC-free backing with bio-based content and recycled fillers, is carbon negative and red-list free; and CQuest BioX has an even higher concentration of carbon-negative material so that, when used with a 12-ounce face weight, it generates a carbon-negative carpet tile.
• When Interface began its sustainability journey in the mid 1990s, it calculated that each square meter of its carpet tile was responsible for emitting approximately 20 kg of carbon dioxide. Now it intends to be entirely carbon negative by 2040, including all operations.
• Further reduced cradle-to-gate carbon footprint of carpet in 2020 for total reduction of 76% since 1996 baseline; reduced LVT’s carbon footprint 28% since 2017 baseline; and reduced Nora rubber footprint by 14% since 2019 baseline, largely from introducing more natural rubber into the formulation.
• Increased recycled and bio-based content across all flooring to 48% in 2020 from 46% in 2019.
• Increased recycled content of LVT to 39%.
• Only flooring firm to receive UN Climate Action Award, in the Climate Neutral Now category, in part due to retiring 5.7 million tons of carbon credits over the last two decades.
• Measured from raw material extraction to end of life, has achieved carbon neutrality across all products it sells, mostly from a focus on materials but with carbon credits to close the gap, verified by Apex.
• Was the featured company in The New York Times Magazine’s Climate Issue in late June, entitled “Has the Carbontech Revolution Begun?”

Georgia-headquartered manufacturer of hard and soft surface flooring
• Having achieved goal of reducing GHG emissions of 40% by 2030 nine years early, will establish more aggressive goals next year.
• In 2020, assessed more than 1.8 billion pounds of raw material according to Cradle to Cradle material health methodology.
• To date, 87% of product that Shaw manufactures is Cradle to Cradle Certified. Among products not included is rigid LVT, which is still mostly sourced through Asian partnerships.
• Since 2018, has achieved carbon neutrality on commercial carpet operations, using tools including efficiency improvements, onsite renewable energy generation and purchase of offsets.
• Since 2010, has reduced water intensity by 42%, and since 2006 has recycled nearly one billion pounds of carpet.
• At beginning of August, announced that Patcraft, a commercial division of Shaw, has achieved its first Cradle to Cradle Gold certification for its carbon neutral carpet tile collection, Reverse, through lower embodied carbon in its face fiber and backing and the purchase of carbon offsets.
• Participated in pilot of Cradle to Cradle v4, which rolled out in early July, and will come out with first five products to achieve certification globally. This is the first Cradle to Cradle version that is an ANSI standard.
• Intends to add to its PVC-free resilient offering with concept products made of PET as well as hybrids of carpet and hard surface.

Georgia-headquartered manufacturer of hard and soft surface flooring
• Earlier this year, expanded ReCover Carpet Recycling program from commercial to include residential, providing reclaimed carpet solutions for retailers and their customers.
• Recycled approximately 8.9 billion PET drink bottles last year for use in residential carpet.
• Achieved Well Health-Safety rating from all commercial showrooms and design studios.
• Announced that it exceeded corporate goal of 25% reduction in waste-to-landfill intensity by 2020; currently has 43 zero waste facilities certified.
• In 2021, launched ReCover backing system designed to make recycling easier and more efficient; the backing removes materials like latex and calcium carbonate and secondary backings that need to be removed during recycling process.
• At its Dal-Tile facility in El Paso, Texas, installed a new “wet scrubber” system on exterior of plant to clean gases and solids created in firing process so that only steam leaves the kiln stacks; the contaminated water is filtered through reverse osmosis, enabling 100% of wastewater to be reused-70% back into the wet scrubber, 30% to tile production.
• In the last two years, Godfrey Hirst, which is part of Mohawk Industries in Australia, launched multiple red-list free Declare labels across a range of product platforms.
• As part of the Living Product Challenge certification, Mohawk’s nylon carpet tile is verified as carbon positive (105%), achieved in part through carbon offsets and handprint projects, and it’s also water positive through its Waterways program. (Handprint projects reduce environmental impacts outside of the firm’s footprint, for example, gifting solar power to a local school.)

Italy-headquartered fiber firm with recycling operations in the U.S. and Slovenia
• Purchased collector/sorter Planet Recycling in late 2020 (renamed Aquafil Carpet Collection) to secure recycled carpet material stream in Arizona and California.
• Increased capacity at Phoenix, Arizona recycling facility to 75%.
• After long delays getting electricity from PG&E for its Sacramento, California recycling facility, started operations at 20% capacity, shooting for over 50% by year’s end.
• Is recycling and reselling about 100 tons of copper annually, reclaimed from the antifouling coating on nylon aquaculture nets.
• Has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 59% since 2016; gets 95% of its energy from renewable resources, covering all operations in eight countries across three continents.
• Reports progress with Genomatica, a San Diego-based biotechnology firm that Aquafil has invested in, in its pursuit of synthesis of bio-based caprolactam, a precursor to nylon 6; the first 300 kilograms have already been produced; Aquafil has invested in the creation of a small pilot plant in Italy.
• Through its site now sells consumer products from 15 brands using Econyl 100% recycled nylon 6 fiber, including clothing, shoes, handbags, backpacks and sunglasses.

France-headquartered manufacturer of hard and soft surface flooring with U.S. production
• Increased the use of renewable energy at all U.S. facilities; now accounts for 27% of total energy consumption.
• Accelerated increase in use of abundant materials, recycled content and bio-based content; as of 2020, 68% of raw materials do not contribute to resource scarcity, toward a goal of 75%.
• Reduced water consumption intensity to achieve 54% decrease since 2010.
• Completed CDP (environmental disclosure) report, earning a B rating.
• Completed EcoVadis report, earning platinum rating.
• Will increase goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Switzerland-headquartered manufacturer of hard and soft surface flooring
• Increased use of renewable energy by starting a pilot program using biogas in one of its manufacturing sites, which helped reduce the company’s carbon footprint by reducing the amount of CO2 it emits into the environment.
• Recycled over 300 tons of post-consumer waste in 2020, including linoleum, PVC and textile products.
• Reduced the global warming potential of a newly introduced Flotex modular product by over 14% through green design and raw material optimization, which equates to a reduction of between a factor of two to five when compared to many modular competitors.
• Reduced average CO2 emissions during production per square meter of product by 68% since 2004 (includes input from the entire Forbo product offering).
• Reduced both energy consumption and CO2 emissions at the production plant in the Netherlands through a sustainable ventilation system for linoleum drying kilns.
• Launched Forbo Impressa, a linoleum plank with a core linoleum pressed on a glass fiber backing and printed with a wide variety of visuals, as a PVC-free alternative to LVT, comprised of renewable materials.
• Launched Sustainability 2025 Program and benchmarked against 2020 results. Over the next five years aims to continue reducing carbon footprint and expanding use of renewable energy, actively contributing to the circular economy, including recycling post-consumer floorcoverings within pilot projects, as well as ensuring ethical and sustainable supply chain management, and that all employees are involved in sustainability.

Connecticut-headquartered resilient flooring producer through manufacturing partnerships
• Is building its new HQ in Norwalk, Connecticut, designed by Jason McLennan, founder of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), as a Living Building project. The building will generate all of its energy from onsite solar, producing more energy than it consumes; will harvest rainwater for use in some plumbing fixtures; and is being built with only non-toxic materials, using ILFI’s red-list imperatives.
• Now includes embodied carbon data for Aspecta LVT and Naturescapes, a PVC-free polyurethane resilient flooring with bio-based content, on the Declare labels of those products.
• As of December 2020, has certified all of HMTX’s
rigid core products under the Assure standard developed by the Resilient Floor Covering Institute in partnership with SCS Global Services, covering about 68 collections and over 225 SKUs.
• Is pursuing Cradle to Cradle certification for bio-based flooring like Naturescapes, and is also working on Material Health Certificates for two of its adhesives as part of Cradle to Cradle certification.
• Has completed greenhouse gas inventory of most of its operations in consultation with Keramida, a global sustainability and EHS (environmental, health and safety) consulting firm.

Georgia-headquartered carpet mill with LVT programs
• Increased Kinetex post-consumer content to 45%; a single tile contains the equivalent of 27 used water bottles.
• Continues development of Kinetex recycling options.
• Updated content on Mindful Materials, where users can find EPDs, HPDs, LCAs, and other transparency data on carpet, Kinetex and LVT.
• Added new heat-setting machines that enable 10% to 15% energy savings over those installed a decade ago.

France-headquartered manufacturer of resilient and sports flooring
• Has increased recycled content in its products to 25% toward a goal of 30% by 2025 from a baseline of 2020.
• Has increased annual volume that is reclaimed and reused in its facilities from 50,000 tons toward a goal of 60,000 tons.
• Has increased the percentage of products that are free of adhesive to 25% toward a goal of 35% in 2025 from a baseline of 2020.
• In France and Germany, generates all of the firm’s electricity from renewable sources.

Gerflor’s click LVT facility in Provence in the south of France is an example of designing for sustainability. The facility, which was fully commercialized in 2019, was constructed vertically so that the manufacturing line starts at the top of the building and moves down, with the completed product emerging at the ground level. The patented low-energy process uses gravity to help get the job done, and the firm estimates that its CO2 emissions intensity is ten times lower than a traditional LVT facility and uses 30% less energy.

The facility also includes a recycling center, and recycled material makes up 55% of the content of the flooring produced at the Provence facility. Also, it’s surrounded by olive groves and fields of lavender.

Tennessee-headquartered manufacturer of porcelain tile
• Recycled 4.94 million pounds of fired porcelain in 2020, bringing cumulative total to nearly 140 million pounds since 2009 launch of Tile Take-Back program and recycling partnership with Toto: 4.06 million pounds from fired scrap product; 779,880 pounds from Toto scrap porcelain; and 97,483 pounds from Tile Take-Back post-consumer waste.
• Use of all the recycled material in tile production maintains Crossville as net consumer of waste for ninth consecutive year; net waste consumption is achieved by using more waste than is created during production.
• Also removed 2.42 million pounds of filtrate solids from dirty water and recycled back into tile production.

China-headquartered manufacturer of LVT and rigid LVT, with rigid LVT production in U.S.
• This summer, published first annual sustainability report.
• In 2020, reused 145,000 tons of water at facility in China and diverted 27,850 tons of scrap waste from landfill.
• Conducted massive overhaul of lighting from halogen and fluorescent to LED, saving an estimated 400,000 kilowatt hours per year. Also replaced existing forklifts with electric forklifts, preventing over 125,000 pounds of CO2 emissions per year.
• Was one of first firms to achieve Assure Certified standard for its rigid LVT.
• In 2020, started up its U.S. rigid LVT facility in Dalton, Georgia to serve the U.S. market, reducing environmental burden of shipping volume from China.

New Jersey-headquartered manufacturer of hard and soft surface flooring
• Incorporating AtlasMasland into the Mannington system with regard to supply chain visibility and transparency reporting.
• Significantly increased the number of transparency documents for all product lines.
• Launched Legato Liquid Linoleum, which carries ILFI Declare Red-List Free, HPD, EPD as well as FloorScore and MindfulMaterials certifications.
• Launched Cirro, a non-vinyl polymeric composite floor, which carries ILFI Declare Red-List Free, HPD, EPD as well as FloorScore and MindfulMaterials certifications.

California-headquartered carpet mill with LVT programs
• Since 2013, almost 70% reduction in water usage, 55% reduction in natural gas usage, 55% reduction in electricity usage.
• Over the course of the last year, introduced more recycled content into products than it ever has before.
• Working to reduce carbon while maintaining technical integrity and being transparent and honest.
• Working toward introducing biobased content in backing as well as cushion with a high recycled content.

Pennsylvania-headquartered manufacturer of resilient flooring
• Pursuing Well Building certification for new HQ in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; aiming for Gold certification before the end of the year.
• By this fall, intends to have all products publicly available on EC3 tool, depicting embodied carbon.
• Launched 2.5mm LVT this year, down from 3.2mm, reducing carbon footprint.
• Replaced felt with recyclable fiberglass at Stillwater, Oklahoma sheet vinyl facility; anticipates that it will divert over 150 tons of material annually.

Georgia-headquartered carpet mill with hard surface programs
• Discontinued use of PVC in commercial modular carpet, converting to PVC-free Sustaina backing system made of EVA and PET, of which 95% is from post-consumer drink bottles; Sustaina-backed products have total recycled content as high as 86% and are fully recyclable.
• Shift from wet-dyed to solution-dyed fiber systems reduced water and energy consumption for fifth consecutive year in Dixie’s commercial business.
• In 2020, was awarded NSF-140 Platinum standard for solution-dyed carpet on Sustaina backing; other products meet the Gold standard.
• Is in the process of selling its commercial brands to Mannington.

Italy-headquartered manufacturer of ceramic tile with U.S. production
• Began relamping the factory with LED lights, which will provide the company with an estimated excess of a 1/2 megawatt per hour reduction in electricity demand.
• Began recycling raw material bulk bags for both reuse and eventual recycle.
• Increased consumption of post-consumer glass to approximately 6.5 million pounds.
• Aims to be a zero landfill facility within the next few years.
• Identification and incorporation of novel recycled raw materials, including products with as much as 60% recycled content and up to 5% post-consumer recycled content.

U.K.-headquartered producer of LVT through Asian manufacturing partnerships
• Enrolled its rigid core products in the pilot program for developing the ASTM-3261 Standard Specification for Resilient Flooring in Modular Format with Rigid Polymeric Core and the Assure Certified standards.

Virginia-headquartered manufacturer of carpet fiber
• Introduced carbon-negative carpet fiber. The new fiber program, Thrive Matter, is available globally, produced at the firm’s facilities in Bristol, Virginia; Gorzow, Poland; and Taicang, China. The journey started with the introduction of Thrive nylon 6,6 in 2015 with a carbon footprint of 3.69 kilos of CO2 per kilo of fiber produced, far less than half the carbon footprint of virgin fiber. And nylon 6 was added to the Thrive brand. In the intervening years, both Thrive 6,6 and Thrive 6 have continued to lower their carbon footprints, mostly through boosting post-consumer and post-industrial recycled content, along with inhouse efficiency projects and raw material and supplier strategies, eventually down to 2.5 kg CO2 equivalent for Thrive 6,6 and 1.5 kg CO2 eq for Thrive 6, with 90% recycled content, mostly post-industrial, which has a bigger impact on embodied carbon than post-consumer content. And this year it crossed the finish line with carbon offsets through

South Carolina-headquartered carpet mill with LVT programs
• In 2020, increased its renewable energy use five-fold from 2019 to 50,022 MWh, primarily from wind and hydro, halfway toward its goal of 100,000 MWh by 2025.
• Earlier this summer, introduced the D/Lux line of carpet tile, dematerialized largely through a reduction in face weight, with total weights across the three styles averaging just over 100 ounces per square yard, including the cushioned backing.
• In 2020, reduced its water usage intensity to 3.02 gallons per pound from 3.15 gallons/lb toward a goal of 2.16 gallons/lb by 2025. Also, reductions in indexed solid waste have taken the firm 25% toward its goal of a 25% reduction against its 2018 baseline.
• In addition to two Well Platinum certified showrooms (San Francisco and London), recently attained a Well Health-Safety Rating rating for its headquarters in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Pennsylvania-headquartered manufacturer of rubber flooring and backing from recycled tires
• Diverted more than 111 million pounds of truck tires from landfills in 2020.
• In 2020, completed first Climate Change Disclosure with CDP, a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system to help manage environmental impacts and received B rating; has submitted 2021 disclosure, with results expected late this year.
• In its offices, officially phased out single-use plastic utensils in exchange for reusable utensil sets.

Ohio-headquartered manufacturer of rubber and vinyl flooring products
• Having met its 2025 goals of 20% to 25% reductions in waste, water and energy from a 2016 baseline five years early, has set new goals for 2030, including another 25% reduction in energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and waste, a 25% increase in recycling waste into new products, and a 10% reduction in transportation energy.
• Has secured Greenguard Gold certification under the Roppe brand for rubber tiles, stair treads and Envire rubber sheet with flashcove.
• Has had its Flexco facility recertified as ISO 14001 and is pursuing DOE’s 50001 Ready program certification.

• A multi-institutional team led by Iowa State University is working to upcycle plastic waste into liquid lubricants-oil, hydraulic fluids, greases and heat transfer fluids. If successful, the project, one of 12 funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Plastics Innovation Challenge, could help reduce energy consumption as well as greenhouse gas emissions and provide an avenue to reuse waste plastic. According to Ali Erdemir, an engineering professor with Texas A&M, which is also involved in the project, “Benefits could be huge as the end-products of this project will not only help reduce the adverse environmental impacts of plastic wastes, but also put them in use in a very green and continuously recyclable manner.”

• Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Yokohama, Japan have engineered bacteria to convert glucose into 1,3-butadiene, which is used to make synthetic rubber and latex as well as adhesives, sealants and much more. The process, still in the early stages of development, has only yielded two grams of 1,3-butadiene per liter of microbial brew, so it’s still a long way from industrial and economic viability. However, the team is confident that it is scalable, and is currently in collaboration with Yokohama Rubber and Zeon Corporation to enhance the protocol to work with larger volumes of microbes.

• Researchers at Aalto University in Espoo, Finland are experimenting with lignin, a natural polymer abundant in wood and other plant sources, to create a low-cost, high-performance coating for wood used in construction. According to Alexander Henn, a doctoral candidate at Aalto’s School of Chemical Engineering, “Our new coating has great potential to protect wood. It’s more water repellent than a lot of commercial coatings because it retains the natural structure of wood and its micro-scaled roughness. Since it’s hydrophobic, the coating is also quite resistant to stains, while lignin’s inherent structure resists color change from sunlight.”

Copyright 2021 Floor Focus 

Related Topics:RD Weis, Roppe, Shaw Industries Group, Inc., Tarkett, Metroflor Luxury Vinyl Tile, Florim USA, Interface, Daltile, Novalis Innovative Flooring, Coverings, Crossville, Armstrong Flooring, Masland Carpets & Rugs, Engineered Floors, LLC, Mohawk Industries, The Dixie Group, Mannington Mills, HMTX, Lumber Liquidators