FOR specifiers working with vinyl flooring, Recofloor can play a key role for achieving waste reduction targets. Participants can recycle specified commercial vinyl installation offcuts and uplifted material through this well-established waste vinyl flooring take back scheme.
It is easy to use, improves sustainability of any project, saves money on disposal costs and enhances your green credentials. With growing pressure on the construction industry to reduce waste and improve resource efficiency, Recofloor offers an environmentally friendly and circular disposal solution for many types of vinyl flooring.
Although significant progress has been made by flooring manufacturers and the wider flooring industry in their efforts to reduce material being sent to landfill and to consider the impacts to the environment, there are still opportunities to further drive work towards zero avoidable waste.
Be part of the Recofloor solution
The construction industry is the UK’s biggest consumer of natural resources. A 2021 report entitled ‘Zero Avoidable Waste in Flooring — Towards a Circular Economy’, compiled by resource recovery specialist Axion for the Contract Flooring Association reveals some interesting statistics.
Within resilient flooring, vinyl makes up the majority of products. An estimated 150,000 tonnes of resilient flooring are placed on the UK market annually, but currently only a small fraction of that – around 1,000 tonnes – is captured and recycled.
This relatively low recycling rate is not from lack of opportunity but is more constrained by the ability to collect large quantities from construction and refurbishment projects where the majority of waste arises as well as contamination from adhesives and levelling compounds still attached to uplifted flooring.
However, about 10% of the offcuts from the laying of flooring are recycled. So, there is the opportunity to increase the amount of vinyl flooring material for recycling and specifiers can help by working in conjunction with Recofloor participants. Around 600 tonnes of vinyl flooring waste are collected and recycled through the Recofloor take back scheme every year and volumes continue to grow as awareness of the scheme continues to build.
Recycle with Recofloor
Established in 2009 by leading flooring manufacturers Polyflor and Altro, Recofloor provides the flooring sector and professionals working within it with a genuinely sustainable take-back scheme for specified commercial waste vinyl generated from refurbishment and new build projects.
The UK-wide scheme collects a range of flooring types, such as Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVTs), smooth, safety and loose lay vinyl offcuts, roll-ends as well as uplifted smooth and loose lay vinyl. Since its inception, Recofloor has diverted nearly 6,000 tonnes of waste vinyl flooring from landfill.
Recognising a need for greater sustainability in the flooring sector and to prevent recyclable waste vinyl materials from being needlessly landfilled, the two manufacturers developed an efficient recycling scheme to capture valuable raw material resources for recycling. Today, collected vinyl flooring can be turned into new products, including new flooring. Unsuitable or contaminated waste vinyl flooring is sent to the traffic management industry for downcycling into other useful products such as traffic cones and sign bases.
Over the last 12 years, Recofloor has been playing a valuable role in assisting specifiers in reaching sustainable objectives towards achieving zero avoidable waste in the flooring sector.
How does Recofloor work?
Recofloor unites the flooring chain – from specifiers and designers through to flooring contractors and distributors – in a shared goal of saving as much recyclable material as possible from being sent to landfill.
Collected vinyl flooring, especially clean post-installation offcuts, can be readily recycled and used again in new products, including flooring.
To help specifiers identify which materials can successfully be collected and recycled, Recofloor has developed a detailed specification guide. It also describes the vinyl types accepted and the reasons why they need to be kept free of other contaminants to ensure the flooring can be recycled.
Recofloor makes it simple for members to benefit and take a responsible approach to resource recovery, supplying branded bins or bags that allow segregation of different materials. This minimises contamination, while increasing recyclability.
Specified commercial vinyl material can be collected from sites such as new home building, education, healthcare, leisure centres, stores and others. This offers a convenient and cost-effective option for contractors to dispose of waste vinyl responsibly, with collections adapted according to their needs or alternatively, contractors can collect the material and book the collections from their premises.
Participation in the Recofloor scheme enables construction companies and large contractors to demonstrate their sustainable credentials and earn certification points for accredited schemes, such as BREEAM. Their actions in diverting recyclable material for reuse in new products also shows the flooring sector’s commitment to taking a lead in responsible resource recovery for vinyl flooring materials.
Recofloor members receive a Certificate of Commitment as evidence of their participation in the scheme. They can also request a statement letter showing the amount of material collected for a particular project or period of time.
With proof of what material has been collected, flooring contractors or construction companies can apply for BREEAM points and environmental certificates. This elevates their ‘sustainability status’ and promoting their involvement in the Recofloor scheme raises awareness, helping to attract more business, especially where evidence of recycling is a requirement in tender processes.
Recofloor: View from ‘the floor’
As an industry-led membership scheme, enthusiasm and participation is high among Recofloor’s hundreds of participants, who recognise the considerable environmental and economic benefits of collecting waste vinyl flooring for recycling.
Recofloor also produces a series of regular case studies highlighting the use of the scheme on a variety of commercial projects. These help to share information and tips on the best ways to utilise Recofloor’s services, in turn, helping participants to boost their green credentials in front of their customers and prospects.
Using the Recofloor scheme is also beneficial economically as members can save up to 70% on the cost of skips and sending waste vinyl flooring to landfill. The standard rate Landfill Tax in England for 2021/22 is currently £96.70 per tonne.
Adam Conway, Contracts Director at Westcotes Flooring Company says: “Typical installation wastage for vinyl flooring is around 15% to 20%, while between 3% to 5% of LVT is wasted; so, a lot of material would end up in skips and landfill. This is now being recycled and obviously being put to good use and turned into new vinyl flooring. For me, Recofloor is a particularly good scheme. If everyone does a little bit for the environment, then it’s building a better future for the next generation and everyone.”
Recofloor Scheme Manager, Carla Eslava suggests that specifiers working on flooring projects ‘shouldn’t be waiting for others to take action on sustainability’ saying: “It should be a collective matter of pride in taking responsibility for the environment. The sustainability of projects should be a priority, especially now that more services and options are available to reduce the environmental impact of the construction industry.”
An estimate for the carbon savings – as a kg CO2 equivalent – has been calculated for collecting and recycling flooring through Recofloor. The estimate is based on displacing concrete in traffic management products, the primary application for the recycled flooring.
Carla concludes: “Recofloor is much more than just a collection scheme; its whole ethos also forms a core part of many companies’ sustainability commitments in the flooring sector. We are proud to play our part in advancing sustainability in the flooring sector!”