Cost-Saving Sustainable Carpet Tiles: Floor Coverings Containing Increased Recycled Content Also Cut Waste

Carpet tiles are more economical and sustainable than broadloom, because there is less waste: New products having more recycled and recyclable content, are also made using less energy.

Carpet tiles, also called carpet squares, are an environmentally-sustainable floor covering, whose ecological characteristics are steadily being improved. They are used in residential, commercial, and public buildings, such as offices, healthcare clinics, schools, and places of worship.

Carpet Tiles Advantages Over Broadloom:

Lower purchase cost; there is much less waste.
Lower cost of installation; tiles are easier and quicker to lay.
Lower cost of ownership; repairs and replacements are easier.

Sustainability of Carpet Tiles
Carpet tiles are inherently better than broadloom for the environment:

Tiles better fit irregular shapes of floor: Broadloom is cut to fit non-rectangular rooms, but tiles can be purchased in quantities that more closely match shapes. Waste in carpet tile installation is less than 4%, compared to 13.1% for broadloom, according to InterfaceFLOR.
In premises with high-traffic areas, worn tiles can be replaced by new tiles, or tiles swapped from low-traffic areas. In a church for example; tiles in aisles can be replaced with tiles from under pews, where there is less wear, and the replaced worn tiles will be less visible.

The cost savings and sustainability of carpet tiles are being continually enhanced.

InterfaceFLOR developed its Entropy brand tiles in the early 2000s based on ‘bio-mimicry,’ which is the copying of phenomena in nature. The carpet designers noticed that fallen leaves in a forest make a consistent whole, even though they are all different and scatter randomly. The designers produced tile patterns that similarly give a consistent appearance despite variations.This has two main benefits:

Each tile can be laid in any direction.: Variations in shade or colour are not apparent.
Carpet tends to vary in shade from one batch or dye lot, to the next. To match broadloom from different rolls, the rolls have to be from one dye lot; either to carpet areas too large for one roll, or to patch worn or damaged areas. Bio-mimicry tiles from different dye lots, can be laid side by side with no apparent difference.

Recycled Materials
Manufacture of both tiles and broadloom now includes more recycled and recyclable content than before, and uses less energy than before.
The Shaw Contract Group’s EcoWorx tiles were the first with 100% sustainable non-PVC tile backing, which won the company a Presidential Green Chemistry Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The manufacturer collects EcoWorx products worldwide for recycling. This is at no cost to the carpeting owners, saving them the cost of carpet disposal. Their Eco Solution Q nylon contains a minimum of 25% recycled material.

Shaw reclaims and recycles more than 90 million pounds of carpet annually and recycles. They claim their Evergreen nylon recycling facility alone, represents one-third of the industry’s entire carpet recycling capabilities.

Bio-based and recycled materials in InterfaceFLOR’s carpeting, rose from 0.7% in 1996, to 23.7% in 2008. In the same period, total energy use per unit of production fell by 44% and the percentage of energy from renewable resources rose from 1.5 to 28.3%. Consumption of water in production of tiles is down 74% and in production of broadloom by 38%.

InterfaceFLOR can now reclaim and recycle vinyl backing and nylon fibre from their own or any other maker’s carpet. They can recycle not only nylon 6, that has always been recyclable, but also the nylon 6,6 that stands up to wear better, but could not previously be reprocessed.

New Sustainable Carpet Products
Both these manufacturers showed new products at the recent ARIDO IIDEX/NeoCom exhibit in Toronto, Canada. They demonstrated that their esthetically-designed tiles not only reduce environmental footprint: They can save money as well.

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