State of Sustainability: The green movement is becoming mainstream - Aug/Sep 2017
By Darius Helm and Beth Miller
The race is on. Across much of the world, governments and private industry have recognized the stakes, and the drive toward environmental sustainability has taken hold. Renewable energy has made incredible strides, the greening of the built environment gains momentum with every passing day-and the entire movement, launched by visionary purpose, is increasingly undergirded by profitability. Going green is good business.
Nevertheless, for every story of hope, every green milestone reached, there’s another story of peril, of tipping points passed. More than half of the 24,000 megawatts of new electricity generation capacity added to the U.S. grid last year came from renewable sources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and that’s great news. But it’s not in and of itself going to prevent the global temperature from rising more than 3º Fahrenheit by the end of the century, say the climate scientists, and it’s not going to stop atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from rising toward 500 parts per million, which is about twice as high as the average over recorded history (going back 800,000 years).
Before the mid 20th century, carbon dioxide levels had never been recorded over 300 ppm, according to records maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and just two years ago they crossed the 400 ppm mark. And hot climates are getting hotter. Earlier this year, on June 20, a high of 118º F in Phoenix, Arizona, tying a record set a year earlier, forced the cancellation of dozens of flights. This year, it was news, and it was unique to Phoenix. But in the near future it won’t be news. And it won’t be just Phoenix.
All this is to say that the ultimate goal of all these green initiatives is not just to reduce environmental impacts but to reduce them sufficiently for meaningful and measurable impacts, to move the needle. So there’s no room for resting on laurels. Being carbon neutral, for instance, doesn’t take you across the finish line. That’s the first milestone-a great milestone, to be sure-but it just marks the first mile in this marathon.
Flooring companies have made remarkable progress. It won’t be long before some of them report that they’re close to being environmentally neutral, which is remarkable considering where they all started. But it’s worth taking note of what one of the original leaders, Interface, is talking about these days. As it approaches its 2020 Mission Zero mark, it has launched Mission Climate Take Back, which sounds lofty. Mind you, so did Mission Zero when the firm first announced it more than 20 years ago, and when 2020 rolls around, the firm will have fulfilled most-though perhaps not all-of the mission’s targets. But what’s important is that Interface recognizes that Mission Zero is not the end of the journey, that the next challenge is to be restorative and to spread the word and lead the way. Hopefully, it’s a message that the entire flooring industry will agree with and a role that flooring manufacturers will collectively embrace.
No great human endeavor is a smooth ride, and that’s certainly the case with environmental sustainability. The road is bumpy and pitted. Think of all the certifications, all the assessments, all the red lists that manufacturers must consider, and that specifiers and end users must navigate. It’s complicated and costly and seems unreasonable, because it is. But it’s where we are right now. If we’re in the path of a hurricane, and we have to save our home; we can either rush into action-buy our plywood and nails and sand bags and start hauling and hammering-or we can try to negotiate with the guy who sells the sand and the nails, or count on some miraculous event that will make the storm swerve out to sea. We all know how that story ends.
WHAT SCIENCE CAN AND CANNOT DO
We do have great scientists, though-the greatest in the history of civilization. And they will help. They’re already helping (see Ecolog, on page 81). They develop harebrained processes in their labs that are obscure, expensive and entirely implausible. And the next thing you know, they’re scaleable and affordable, and everyone’s got one in their pocket.
In the 1970s, solar power was little more than a novel idea. Wind power was barely a concept back then. Carbon capture is a big one these days. It’s still elusive, and at best it’s expensive and implausible, but it won’t be for long. It’s among the many fields of study that will one day soon convert CO2 into fibers and resilient materials that far-sighted manufacturers will turn into flooring. But science alone won’t save the day. It will take visionaries to conceive of practical applications and solutions, entrepreneurs to take risks, and hard workers willing to struggle every day to shore up their homes and protect their families with the best materials available until the storm begins to clear. That’s a mission worthy of the flooring industry.
FLOORING INDUSTRY HIGHLIGHTS
Shaw Industries has been at the forefront of the greening of the flooring industry since the turn of the century. Its EcoWorx carpet tile led the industry in full recyclability. And its investments in carpet reclamation and recycling systems have far exceeded the competition. In recent years, the firm has focused heavily on Cradle to Cradle certifications, along with programs to reduce its environmental footprint through a range of company-wide initiatives. The firm has set goals across several impact categories to be reached by 2030.
Recent news on the environmental front includes:
• 85% of its products are now Cradle to Cradle certified, with a goal of 100%
• a 36% reduction in water intensity since 2011, toward a goal of 50%
• a 23% reduction in emission intensity since 2010, toward a goal of 40%
• a 34% reduction in waste intensity since 2008, toward a goal of 100%
• a 16% reduction in energy intensity since 2011, with a goal of 40%
Its progress toward 100% of its products offering Cradle to Cradle certification got a big boost this year with the certification of its polyester carpet, which is a major residential program.
More challenging has been its Evergreen Ringgold operation. The firm has developed a patented technology that uses heat to separate the backing from the face of the carpet and yields a high-purity, high-value material, but its early attempts with nylon 6 and nylon 6,6 resulted in product that didn’t perform. It met its goals in terms of purity, but lost too many properties along the way to make it viable as a waste stream material-nor could it be depolymerized. So Shaw went back to the lab and is currently working on solving the problem. Fortunately, Shaw knows a thing or two about recycled face fiber and has never balked at investing in solutions, so it may take a while, but one way or another, Shaw will eventually return to the market with a viable process.
Since 2006, Shaw has reclaimed and recycled more than 900 million pounds of post-consumer carpet, though the rate has understandably slowed in the last couple of years. However, its commercial EcoWorx carpet recycling operation has continued unabated, and it’s working to boost its reverse-distribution system to ramp it up even more. And it’s also turning carpet into fuel at its Re2E operation alongside Plant 4 in Dalton, generating steam for processing and also for generating some electricity.
Interface, whose founder, Ray Anderson-who passed away in 2011-is widely credited with spurring the greening of the carpet industry, is approaching its Mission Zero 2020 deadline to be an environmentally neutral manufacturer-and it’s close on most of its targets. And last year it launched a new mission called Mission Climate Take Back that goes beyond environmental impact reductions to restorative practices and an advocacy role focused on developing and disseminating environmental strategies.
Recent highlights include:
• a 35% carbon footprint reduction since 2008
• an 86% reduction in water intake intensity at manufacturing sites since 1996
• through its ReEntry program, a total of ten million pounds of post-consumer carpet diverted from landfills
• 87% renewable energy use at manufacturing sites
• a reduction of 95% in greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing since 1996
• 58% bio-based and recycled content in carpet raw materials
• introduction of Proof Positive, a carpet tile prototype with a negative carbon footprint
Proof Positive probably won’t be a marketable product any time soon, but it’s an example of one of the four key focuses of Mission Climate Take Back, to use carbon as a resource and building block. It uses plant-derived carbon that would otherwise rapidly be emitted as CO2 as a material in the composition of the tile in the backing, fiber and filler. For now, Proof Positive is more an idea than a patentable technology, but Interface intends to pursue the concept to its fruition.
One of the biggest recent changes at Interface is its introduction of LVT running lines. The product is sourced from a South Korean partner, and now the challenge is for the firm to fold the program into its environmental strategies. Down the road, it will likely integrate LVT into its reclamation programs, since its heavily recycled carpet tile is PVC-backed.
Interface is also building a new headquarters in Atlanta that will be WELL Building certified. And it recently made a $50 million investment in its LaGrange, Georgia facility that includes a range of increased efficiencies along with health and wellness advancements.
Mohawk Industries is unique in the flooring industry, not only because it’s by far the largest global firm, with about $9 billion in global sales and closing in on 40,000 employees, but because of its acquisition-based approach. This presents unique challenges when it comes to environmental sustainability, because every time it acquires a new flooring company it has to assess every aspect of the operation, realign its green development and integrate it into its global sustainability model.
That task now falls on the shoulders of George Bandy, who was named vice president of sustainability just over a year ago. Prior to Mohawk, Bandy spent 16 years with Interface.
Recent environmental highlights include:
• the introduction of a mobile ceramic tile crusher that can process 30 tons an hour, rolled out late last year
• the installation of eight bee hives housing over a million bees at its Glasgow, Virginia carpet facility, which both addresses the pollination crisis and makes tasty honey
• the use of a closed loop water system at its IVC plant in Belgium, using surface water from the river to run in manufacturing processes
• achieving Five Petal Certification under the Living Building Challenge for its Light Lab commercial design facility in Dalton, Georgia
• introducing Airo, through technology from Holland’s DSM-Niaga, a carpet made entirely of PET, from backing to binder to face fiber, with over 90% of the material coming from reclaimed PET bottles
• unveiled Lichen carpet tile at NeoCon in June, the first product to achieve Petal Certification under the new Living Product Challenge
Mohawk Industries achieved Water Petal certification for Lichen in part through a “handprint” attained when Mohawk switched out showerheads in freshman dorms at Atlanta’s Morehouse College. The low-flow showerheads reduce water use by 1.6 million gallons a year. Also helping achieve the certification is its Red List free construction, which includes its polyolefin NXT backing, and its biophilic design.
Mohawk has also made transparency a major focus of its sustainability platform. It has 21 Declare labels, including the most Red List Free designations in the flooring industry.
The firm has expanded its reclaimed bottle plant in north Georgia, and next year it expects to use seven billion bottles, up from 5.5 billion last year. It’s the largest user of PET bottles in the nation.
Looking ahead, Mohawk is building a showroom in New York City’s Chelsea district that is on target for both LEED and WELL Building certification. It should be complete before the end of the year. And by the first quarter of 2018, construction should be completed on its new LEED certified showroom in Glasgow, Virginia, adjacent to its carpet tile facility.
To date, the firm has reduced total energy intensity by 1.9% since 2010, water intensity by 35% and greenhouse gas intensity by 12.8%, according to its latest sustainability report, which also records total cumulative recycled waste of 7.1 billion pounds and 25 million pounds of tires recycled into doormats.
Tarkett NA, the North American division of France’s Tarkett, is notable for its diverse range of product offerings, from rubber, linoleum and all types of vinyl flooring to carpet tile, Powerbond six-foot goods, woven and tufted broadloom, and Axminster carpet. The firm focuses a lot on the quality of its materials, with a range of Cradle to Cradle declarations third-party certified through the EPEA (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency), along with a handful of Declare labels. Thanks to adjustments to its chemistry and its demonstrated recyclability, Tarkett’s Baseworks rubber wall base was recently upgraded from Bronze to Silver Cradle to Cradle certification.
Other notable recent achievements include:
• a 4% increase in the last year to 71% of its materials being renewable, bio-based or abundant in nature, toward a goal of 75% by 2020
• a linoleum launch with no red list pigments-its linoleum is produced in Europe
• the elimination of fluorine in its anti-stain chemistries
• increase in products that don’t require adhesive application, including Sureset technology in its Transcend Loose Lay LVT and its patented SlideLock for its looselay rubber tiles
Tarkett has also shifted to renewable energy from the grid for its electrical needs in its Middlefield and Chagrin Falls, Ohio operations; its operations in Quebec run on 100% hydroelectricity.
Aquafil has been a leader in green carpet fiber for several years with its 100% recycled Econyl, a solution-dyed nylon 6 fiber, but this year the firm stepped up its game, coming out with Econyl Pure, a white dyeable fiber available in different dye affinities and also in different sizes so that it can be used not just in the carpet industry but also in apparel, like swimwear, that uses a much thinner fiber. The purification technology was added to its depolymerization facility in Slovenia.
The other big news at Aquafil is in reclamation and recycling. The firm is building a new recycling operation in Phoenix, Arizona that will reclaim whole carpet and separate it into three streams-polypropylene backing, face fiber and filler. Nylon 6 fiber will be pelletized and shipped to Slovenia, while the polypropylene will be sold to local markets. The operation will start next March and should be up to full speed a year from now.
Aquafil chose Phoenix because it’s a strong recycling market and it’s also close to California’s incentivized market. In June, the firm decommissioned its Cartersville, Georgia shearing operation, which was no longer sustainable because of the cost of getting rid of the carpet carcasses. For now, the firm is collecting whole carpet and shipping it to Slovenia, to a pilot plant that is separating it using the same technology that will be installed in Phoenix. If all goes well in Phoenix, Aquafil hopes to roll out additional recycling centers in the future.
J+J Flooring, which is now part of Engineered Floors, manufactures commercial carpet as well as Kinetex, a unique soft surface tile made of PET with 58% recycled content (42% post-industrial and 16% post-consumer). The firm was recently recertified as a zero-waste-to-landfill manufacturer. And last year the firm achieved its 2020 goal of reducing its energy intensity by 20% from a 2010 baseline. Its goal for water is to reduce intensity by two thirds by 2020, and so far it’s at 36%. And it is already at 19% for greenhouse gas reduction, with a goal of 20%. It’s also close to reaching its goal of 33% recycled content on commercial products, thanks in part to Kinetex. Next year the firm intends to add new goals for 2025.
Another 2020 goal is to generate 20% of its electricity with on-site renewable energy, and it’s aggressively focusing on a solar program for next year. Currently, 50% of its electricity comes from renewable sources through the grid.
Late last year, Invista, manufacturer of the unique hollow-filament Antron commercial nylon 6,6 fiber, introduced a new DuraTech topical soil resistance treatment that is free of fluorine with no reduction in performance. Perfluorinated compounds, also known as PFCs, are bioaccumulative and have been shown in animal studies to cause endocrine disruption and other effects that lead to developmental problems.
Since Metroflor entered the commercial specified market just three short years ago, it has quickly ramped up its environmental programs to meet the demands of the market. A couple of months ago, it introduced a Declare Label for its Aspecta 10 rigid LVT, and it already has Declare labels for Aspecta 1 and Aspecta 5, and intends by the end of the year to also have Declare labels for Engage and Engage Genesis.
The firm has also embarked on complete lifecycle assessments for all of its products-produced at two Chinese facilities-with the goal of publishing product-specific EPDs. Metroflor has strong long-term relationships with both facilities. One in particular, the Elegant Plastics Factory, makes product for them almost exclusively. Elegant Plastics itself has many green programs, including piping steam from a steel mill about a mile away to feed its hot press machinery, and some of its electricity is generated through solar power.
The firm’s chief sustainability officer, Rochelle Routman, recently did a presentation at the first anniversary meeting of the Multilayer Flooring Association, whose president is Harlan Stone, Metroflor co-chairman and CEO of Halstead. She proposed establishing a sustainability committee, with a key topic being the promotion of environmentally responsible PVC production. There are currently three different production methods for converting brine-sodium chloride in solution-into the chlorine that goes into PVC. One uses mercury cells, which requires the removal of toxic mercury from the effluent stream; another uses a porous asbestos diaphragm requiring frequent replacement; and the third technology, by far the safest and most environmentally friendly, is an ion exchange membrane process. While the industry has generally moved away from mercury cell technology, there’s still plenty of chlorine production using asbestos diaphragms, even in the U.S.
Mannington Mills, a manufacturer of a wide range of flooring, including vinyl, rubber, laminate, hardwood and commercial broadloom and carpet tile, recently divested itself of what is arguably the floorcovering with the weakest environmental story, VCT, selling it to Armstrong for $36 million. VCT, which is made of limestone and PVC, has a particularly high-impact maintenance profile, requiring regular buffing and polishing.
The firm is currently focused on its transparency initiatives. It’s working on more comprehensive lifecycle assessments, looking at materials down to 100 parts per million. It already has EPDs and for its commercial hard and soft products as well as HPDs for carpet. It also has a Declare label for its carpet tile with its Revolve non-PVC backing, and it intends to do more.
Novalis, a prominent LVT producer based in China, will install over 430,000 square feet of solar arrays at its facility later this year, which should generate 400,000 kWh annually. The firm goes to market under the Ava brand and also has a substantial private label business.
The firm has zero waste production, diverting all its scrap for reuse, and all of its water is reclaimed, filtered and recycled. It has also reduced energy use through a split hot press system and closed-loop steam recycling. Novalis also has HPDs and Declare labels for all of its products, and was the first Chinese LVT manufacturer to complete a full lifecycle assessment and receive UL-certified HPDs for all products.
Tennessee-based Crossville recycled over 21 million pounds of fired porcelain in 2016, bringing the firm’s cumulative total to over 91 million pounds since the 2009 launch of its Tile Take-Back program and subsequent recycling partnership with Toto. The recycled content includes previously installed tile collected through its distribution network along with production scrap. The use of recycled material in its manufacture of porcelain has helped the firm maintain its status as a net consumer of waste for the sixth consecutive year.
The bulk of the recycled content comes from fired scrap (62.9%) and scrap from Toto (36.7%), with the balance from post-consumer waste through the Tile Take-Back program.
Toward the beginning of this year, Bentley Mills introduced an adhesive-free installation system for its carpet tiles. Affix is a hook and loop technology with corner tabs attached to the floor, obviating the need for full-spread adhesive.
The firm has also made progress toward reducing its overall environmental footprint with a 3% to 4% average reduction in energy intensity. And it now has Declare labels for all of its products, including the Affix system.
Bentley was an early adopter of renewable energy, with a solar array at its facility in City of Industry, California since 1999, and is currently looking at ways of upgrading and expanding it.
Armstrong Flooring is working on its goal of global waste, energy and water intensity reductions by 2024 from a 2014 baseline, and its reduction of 30 million gallons of water has pushed it close to its water intensity reduction goals. Energy intensity is currently most challenging, with 3% progress so far.
Since 2009, the firm has been reclaiming and recycling resilient flooring, and to date has recycled over 70 million pounds, mostly in VCT, with year over year increases. VCT goes back into new product, while recycled LVT goes into LVT backings. And the firm recently expanded its recycling operation to include its Migrations and Striations PVC-free polyester composition tile, which features 2% bio-based content.
Armstrong is also in the midst of extending its Diamond 10 protective finish to its VCT, which would eliminate initial polishing and substantially reduce maintenance requirements-thus lowering the lifecycle footprint of its VCT. And toward the end of last year the firm started getting Cradle to Cradle certifications on its adhesives.
Milliken has made great strides in the last year in reducing water use in its U.S. facilities. Replicating a process developed at its U.K. plant in its dye processing, the firm has reduced water intensity by 62.1% since 2010. The U.K. facility has also installed pyrolysis technology, called Re-Vision, at its facility to thermally release energy from waste materials while preserving the minerals. It’s adapted from a technology used by the British Navy that enabled their ships to eliminate waste on board rather than having to come on shore to dump it. Once the pyrolysis technology has proved successful in the U.K., Milliken will start using it in the U.S.
The firm continues to use methane from the LaGrange, Georgia landfill to generate steam for powering boilers at its Live Oak carpet finishing facility. It also gets hydroelectricity from its own plant in South Carolina. Depending on rainfall, its renewable energy footprint oscillates between 40% and 52%. From a 2010 baseline, the firm has reduced (per unit) energy consumption by 22.6%, greenhouse gas emissions by 22.5% and waste by 45.7%.
Milliken is also focused on transparency. In addition to EPDs, HPDs and 12 Declare labels, it has its suppliers sign non-disclosures, using WAP Sustainability as a third party, for evaluation of their chemistries.
Ecore has an environmental leg up on most flooring manufacturers, because the base material for its flooring is made from recycled automotive tires. It recycles about 86 million pounds of waste material annually while generating about two million pounds. Even with all of its new products out there, including products with top layers not made of recycled rubber, 74% of everything it sells is made of post-consumer recycled content.
Ecore is looking at reducing its environmental footprint further with the use of renewable energy. It is currently analyzing a solar model to take advantage of 600,000 square feet of roof at its facility in York, Pennsylvania.
Forbo, which is best known in the U.S. for its bio-based linoleum products, sold under the Marmoleum brand, is a leader in transparency. The firm also makes a range of vinyl flooring, a flocked nylon flooring product called Flotex, and entrance mats. Its Coral brand of entrance mats use Aquafil’s Econyl with 100% recycled content.
The firm’s standard 2.5mm Marmoleum is CO2 neutral all the way through manufacturing. The firm is currently updating its lifecycle assessments, which will be published in its upcoming sustainability report in the fourth quarter. All of its products carry Declare labels, with its linoleum and cork products carrying Red List Free designation.
Universal Fibers has been working hard on its four-pillar strategy of material content, environmental impacts, social responsibility and transparency. In terms of value chain chemical management, the firm has enlisted the services of WAP Sustainability to assess its chemical use-the firm uses about 200 CAS numbers, which denote chemical substances, like pigments, UV stabilizers and lubricants, in its 284 solution-dyed colors, so it’s a substantial undertaking. The firm intends to publish the results in its corporate sustainability report in the next couple of months.
The firm has also been working with Virginia Tech chemical engineers on water reduction in compounding operations. And it has made substantial gains in waste diversion, achieving a 92% diversion rate in 2016 and a 17% reduction in waste, increasing total waste diversion to 98% from early 1990s levels.
The firm’s Thrive solution-dyed nylon 6 features 75% recycled content-65% post-industrial and 10% post-consumer, with post-consumer content coming from harvested face fiber, engineered plastics and film packaging.
Flexco, a Roppe Holding Company (RHC), achieved ISO 14001 for its Tuscumbia, Alabama manufacturing facility in June of this year. In 2016, RHC set corporate sustainability goals that it would achieve a 20% reduction in energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and water use by 2025. Initially, these goals seemed ambitious; however, RHC is on track to meet these goals five years sooner than expected. The vinyl products now use bio-based plasticizers in place of phthalates. Both vinyl and rubber tile EPDs document these environmental and product improvements, with two more expected this summer for vinyl and rubber wall base.
The Dixie Group manufactures an array of carpets and rugs for both the residential and commercial market through several brands and now also offers LVT. Its two Alabama facilities, in Saraland and Atmore, use renewable energy credits for their electricity needs, and the Saraland operation has been using solar power for hot water for the last few years. The firm recently added an EVA precoat line to its Masland Contract carpet tile program, reducing PVC content, and it has increased recycled content in its carpet backings to over 50%.
Gerflor, a French firm with vinyl flooring production in Europe and a maple hardwood sports flooring division in the U.S. (Connor Sports), released product-specific EPDs for its entire U.S. program earlier this year, all third-party certified. All of its LVT lines either use click systems or floating floor installations, requiring no full-spread adhesive, and their 28 mil wearlayers offer long lifecycles. And Connor Sports operation is certified as a zero-waste operation.
At the beginning of the year, Gerflor signed a joint venture in France with Paprec, a major recycler, to recycle Gerflor products. The JV has already generated recycled content that has been incorporated into Gerflor products and sold in the European market.
For 2017, Roppe redesigned all of its molded rubber products to be free of red list chemicals. Like the Flexco products, Roppe’s vinyl products were redesigned with a bio-based plasticizer. Roppe’s rubber flooring EPD has already been published. Three more EPDs for thermoset rubber, thermoplastic rubber and vinyl wall bases will be published in September.
The Impact recycling program, in its sixth year, channels millions of pounds of reclaimed rubber into landscaping and playground mulch with the help of Roppe distributors. Since its launch in 2009, the program has diverted 14,300 tons of product from landfills.
Bolyu, the commercial division of Beaulieu America, reclaimed over 100 million PET bottles last year for use in its carpet tile backings. This year, it launched a new 18”x36” carpet tile, Pleats, to its Level line of PET felt needlepunched into its PET backing. The product has a total recycled content of 79.3% (with 74% coming from post-consumer content). Every square yard of Pleats diverts 75 bottles from landfill.
The firm’s new Continuous Color technology uses Universal Fibers’ solution-dyed Thrive nylon 6,6 in a 20-ounce carpet construction for a yarn-dyed look, called the Collaborative collection. To achieve that look using yarn-dyed fiber would use 625 more gallons of water for every 1,000 yards of carpet produced. The lower face weight, which further reduced the product’s environmental footprint, was attained through a partnership with Dalton’s Catalina Carpet Mills.
Nora, a leading manufacturer of commercial rubber, manufactures its products at its facilities in Weinheim, Germany. According to the firm, it was the first resilient flooring manufacturer in the world to publish EPDs on its products, using the European standard. And last year it updated its EPDs using the North American standards. The firm is currently going through Cradle to Cradle certification in Europe and has also almost completed HPDs.
Over the last decade, the firm has reduced fresh water use by over 95%, and now it is focused on reducing its energy footprint. The firm intends to formally release its sustainability strategy in the next few months.
Six Degrees Flooring, a Roppe Holding Company operation located in Fostoria, Ohio, sources over 50% of its raw material within a 100-mile radius of its facility to make its LVT products. Its products are 100% recyclable and manufactured in the U.S. Like the Roppe and Flexco products, Six Degrees uses only non-phthalate plasticizers in the production of its flooring.
Within the last 12 months, Taylor has introduced its Signature Products-12 products total-all of which are solvent-free with low VOCs. Taylor has minimized the amount of water in each product formula to not only reduce its overall water usage but also to speed up the drying process. In addition to this, the majority of the products are reusable. If a carpet tile becomes damaged, it can be pulled up and replaced with a new one without having to replace the adhesive, though this relies on the adhesive being kept free of contaminants during the carpet tile removal process.
All of Taylor’s Signature Product buckets are made from 100% post-industrial reground plastic and can be recycled.
XL Brands has embraced programs like Cradle to Cradle, FloorScore and CRI Green Label Plus while maintaining its recycled content certifications. XL Brands sources clean and sustainable raw materials from its vendors for use in its ISO 14001 certified facility, where half of its energy use is offset with renewable energy.
Currently, XL Brands is launching its new HydraStix line of high-moisture adhesives and sealers to provide the industry with easy-to-use, cost-saving solutions for moisture mitigation installations on concrete slabs with RH levels from 95% to 99%. With a one-coat application, HydraStix will prevent the need for more costly remediation methods, reducing the need for more chemical contact by contractors and installers.
Starnet’s carpet reclamation program is still ticking along with 62 million total pounds of carpet reclaimed through February 2017 since the program’s inception in 2005. Most of the material is sourced from the office segment since the majority of the carpet tile can be reused. There is some carpet tile coming out of the hospitality sector and even the healthcare sector in areas such as elder care.
Though members are not required to report their numbers, they are encouraged to do so. Some choose to report on a per project basis, while others report quarterly or annually. Those who choose to report on a project basis are issued a Starnet CARE Carpet Reclamation certificate for using a pre-approved collector.
While the reclamation business continues to move along, it is beginning to slow a bit, primarily due to economical issues. Some local area collectors are either closing or are not accepting the material that needs to be moved, in part because of reduced demand for material due to the low cost of virgin polymer. Also, reclamation is impacted greatly by renovation projects that don’t specify carpet removal prior to demolition of a space. For carpet that cannot be recycled but rather repurposed, Starnet donates it to Habitat for Humanity or 501(c)(3) charities, reporting its efforts to CARE.
Fuse’s Ecollect program has diverted 1.5 million pounds since January 2017. Last year, 14 members reported 9.2 million pounds. Of the reporting members, most do not report until the end of the year. Geoff Gordon, executive director, projects that Fuse will get close to the nine million mark it saw last year and will most likely go over due to its network growth.
Fuse talks to its Ecollect program members on a regular basis, asking them to report on their activity and the challenges they are facing. Echoing the same issues as Starnet with many recyclers going out of business due to the low demand, Gordon admits that Fuse is getting fewer requests to participate in the Ecollect program, adding, “There is a cost associated with recycling, and when folks find out they have to pay extra, some don’t want to participate.” Fuse’s large volume members are participating regardless of cost. Gordon points to companies like Tandus Centiva, citing it is always looking for vinyl-backed carpet tile and is paying six cents per pound. Interface also seeks out its own product.
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