Volume 26/number 28 June 10/17, 2013
by Ken Ryan
To Patricia Fanty and Amy Costello of Armstrong Commercial Flooring, it’s a slam dunk for customers: a VCT recycling program for building owners where Armstrong bears 100% of the cost of providing containers along with transporting the reclaimed material back to the recycling facilities.
“Why wouldn’t a building owner take advantage of this program?” said Fanty, marketing manager, commercial flooring. “It’s that simple.”
Armstrong is touting the many benefits of the program as the company markets to commercial customers in the U.S. and Canada. First piloted in 2009, Armstrong launched the commercial VCT recycling initiative in June 2012. It spent three years optimizing the entire program so it operates seamlessly and efficiently. “We do this on our customer programs,” Fanty said, “because there are a lot of aspects to this program.”
Fortunately for Armstrong, while its VCT recycling program is perhaps the only one of its kind in the flooring industry, this type of program is not unique to the company. In 1999, Armstrong Ceilings introduced the industry’s first ceiling recycling program, which to date has recycled more than 123 million square feet of old ceiling material — or more than 61,500 tons of construction waste that has been diverted from landfills.
Costello, Armstrong’s sustainability manager for Commercial Flooring, said during the three-year VCT pilot the company incorporated some of the successful practices of the ceilings program into the VCT recycling initiative. “The ceilings program helped us get up to speed with VCT, and we have tried to capitalize on the lessons learned from that program.”
How it works
Commercial customers at the end of a project need only to call Armstrong and verify their old VCT materials can be recycled before they begin demolition. Once it’s qualified, Armstrong does the rest. Armstrong provides specially labeled boxes owners can use to discard old tile. Armstrong arranges for a pick up of the material anywhere in the continental U.S. and transfers it to its nearest recycling facility. Armstrong pays the freight costs for shipping the old flooring tiles, which it then uses in a closed-loop, post-consumer stream in the manufacture of new VCT flooring products.
Armstrong recycles its own VCT products as well as other qualifying manufacturers’ VCT products, with and without adhesives.
Since 2009, Armstrong said it has successfully recycled more than 4 million pounds of reclaimed VCT flooring, which is recycled in a closed-loop, post-consumer stream into new flooring products. This represents 2,000 tons of material that otherwise would have ended up in landfills.
Costello said the program creates value for customers which lets them recycle old VCT flooring while allowing for the creation of new high recycled content VCT flooring products.
Armstrong officials said the process of recycling old flooring has proven to be just as fast as it would be to remove the material for disposal in a landfill; moreover, there is little, if any, adverse impact on demolition schedules. Costello said that depending on the area, it can be less costly to recycle than it would be to pay for the cost of local handling, transport, dumpster and landfill fees.
“We’re committed to preventing product from going into the landfill,” she said. “This initiative also helps our customers with their sustainability messages.”
Fanty added, “This is about environmental stewardship, which is part of our legacy.”