Completely Floored!

tom mikulski speaking to afe on sustainable flooring solutions

AFE (Association of Facilities Enginers)

Imagine companies where everything from product to packaging came from recycled goods? These companies exist and are growing at a rapid pace. The trend of being green is now revolutionizing how companies produce such fabulous products while being environmentally sound. The carpet industry has followed this trend effectively and has established true sustainability goals. From implementing policies for reducing waste, re-using product, and utilizing renewable energy each company has individualized a plan to achieve great savings both economically as well environmentally.

Although most companies have made great strides with being green, here are three that have some interesting stories to share….

  1. Tandus
  2. Interface
  3. Shaw

Tandus is one of many companies whom has had impressive results from their continuous efforts. Tandus applies what is called “closed loop recycling” which focuses on 2 critical environmental issues- the reduction in amount of materials to be disposed and the reduction of the amount of virgin materials required to make the same products. This process ensures nothing is wasted, continues over and over again, and shows that the original manufacturer is taking complete life cycle responsibility for the items they produce.

The sustainability goal for Tandus holds a primary focus to use the least amount necessary. They feel “if products are made so well they last longer and so beautiful that you want them around longer, then they’ll need to make less of them.”

Some interesting facts about Tandus:

  1. Global Warming Concern- 8 million pounds of carbon dioxide NOT put into the atmosphere because Tandus uses reusable energy – which is equivalent to not driving 9 million miles!
  2. 120,000,000 pounds of carpet Tandus kept out of landfills and recycled into new carpet backing since 1994!
  3. 8,000,000 gallons of adhesive avoided over the last 16yrs by using RS pre-applied adhesive. (“peel and stick”)
  4. Engineered a process that uses 25% less yarn than the industry average which translates into 5 million pounds of virgin yarn not needed each year.
  5. Tandus is the 1st and ONLY carpet manufacturer that uses 100% bio-diesel recycled waste vegetable oil and grease from local restaurants to replace traditional fuel in all their commercial boilers. This is non toxic, biodegradable, safe to handle, and allows to reduce air toxins by 60-90%, air particulates by 48%, and CO2 emissions by 78%!!

Another carpet manufacturer who began their journey to sustainability is Interface. Their primary focus is on the elimination of waste. According to Interface, their definition of what waste is – is anything that does not provide value to the costumer. This could be traditional forms of waste such as off-quality scrap, as well as non traditional waste which is an overuse of materials, inventory losses, etc. The cumulative avoided costs from waste elimination activities since 1995 are calculated to be over $372 million.

Interface has a few brands, one is Bentley Prince Street. This brand has taken another step into its sustainability commitment by creating a partnership with Asset Network for Education Worldwide (ANEW) Foundation, a charitable 501© (3) organization that collects and repurposes surplus furniture, fixtures, and equipment for the underserved in our community and other groups in need. The purpose it to create an overall successful attempt at keeping carpets out of landfills as well allowing companies to receive tax benefits if they donate the carpet they will be taking off to replace by helping to protect the environment.

President of Bentley Prince Street, Inc. states “Our ultimate goal is to divert all carpet products from our landfills, and this partnership touches virtually every aspect of our holistic sustainability philosophy: environmental, social and economic. Working with ANEW, we now have another alternative to dumping surplus carpet in our landfills- either through re-use or recycling. At the same time, we’re helping learning programs that are so vital to our communities. We hope others in our industry will try new ideas like this partnership to help drive the marketplace toward more environmentally and socially conscious practices.” (Article found in Interface website March 28, 2007).

A familiar carpet manufacturer Shaw also has a process for sustainability which they call “cradle to cradle”. They relate their name and process to the idea of how natural products can decompose and return to the earth in an endless cycle of renewal. Cradle to cradle production is this same cycle with synthetic products, recycling Nylon 6 carpets back into raw material and then creating new carpets with that same nylon. Shaw has not only adjusted their waste with their carpet product but also with the packaging, carpet cushion (they use 100% recycled materials), their transportation at their facilities (trucks).

Interesting Shaw Accomplishments:

1) Cradle to cradle also known as Evergreen nylon recycling helps save enough energy to run thousands of homes each year.

2) Shaw has committed to collecting and recycling carpet on a large scale, approximately 300 million pounds of carpet waste annually which equals approximately a 12” roll of carpet for more than 10,000miles long!!

3) Since 1995 Shaw manufactures twice the carpet per gallon of water used.

4) Their waste to energy facility diverts 21,000 tons of carpet and wood flour waste from the landfill each year by converting the waste into steam which is used to power the operations of the plant. The process is environmentally friendly in the cleaner emissions that will result and it saves more than 2.5 million gallons of fuel oil per year.

6) Since Shaw began measuring in 2003, they are now meeting a world-class overall energy reduction rate of 3% per year.

Topics: Green Buildings