Tile talk

Lancaster, Pa.-based Armstrong World Industries is taking back old VCT flooring and recycling it into new products.

July 2, 2014
CDR Staff
Commodities Demolition Green Building

Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Armstrong World Industries is one of the largest producers of ceilings and flooring in the world. As one of the charter members of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), its commitment sustainable practices is evidenced by its efforts to keep its products out of landfills. Contractors across the U.S. working with Armstrong to recycle ceiling and flooring tiles have diverted more than 123 million square feet of ceiling materials and 5 million pounds of flooring materials from landfills and back into Armstrong’s manufacturing process.

The company earned recognition for its recycling programs by major industry groups in 2014 with receipt of the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA) President’s Award and a National Demolition Association (NDA) Environmental Excellence Award. While the company’s ceiling recycling program has been established since 1999, recycling of vinyl composition tile (VCT) flooring is a more recent program that is quickly gaining traction in construction, remodeling and demolition projects. As Armstrong’s Lisa Cavataio answers in the following Q&A, recycling VCT flooring not only benefits the environment but can help contractors meet sustainability and recycling goals.

Construction & Demolition Recycling
(C&DR): What factors both internally and externally led to Armstrong beginning a flooring recycling program?
Lisa Cavataio (LC): Armstrong has a long history of recycling. Armstrong tile plants have always recycled internal VCT processing scrap. It seemed natural to begin recycling VCT from customer installations, when we began receiving inquires from customers asking if we had a recycling program. We wanted to support our customers’ sustainability efforts by providing them with a VCT Recycling Program.

C&DR: Why should a contractor consider recycling flooring from a demolition or remodeling job?
LC: Recycling enables the contractor to include a sustainable solution to his customers by reducing waste going to landfill.

C&DR: What type of projects qualify or are good candidates for flooring recycling?
LC: Projects that qualify include the absence of asbestos, the absence of any previous asbestos flooring abatement, VCT from a building constructed post 1990, and a minimum of 8,000 square feet.

C&DR: What should a contractor do who is interested in flooring recycling on a project?
LC: Call 1-877-276-78761-877-276-7876 option 2, option 7; or email afprecycling@armstrong.com to register a job.

C&DR: How is the flooring collected and separated at the job site? Do you collect all colors and all manufacturer flooring?
LC: The VCT flooring is collected in Gaylord boxes. If the job site allows, we ask that colors be separated. However, if colors cannot be separated (i.e., checkerboard installation), we still accept the material. Color separation allows us to be more efficient from a manufacturing standpoint, but we use all the VCT that is returned. We accept Armstrong and competitor’s VCT.

C&DR: How does Armstrong handle the logistics? Do you receive flooring direct from projects or do you work with a network of C&D recycling facilities/transfer stations?
LC: Armstrong accepts VCT directly from projects and is currently reviewing the addition of working with a network of C&D recycling facilities.

C&DR: How has interest in flooring recycling grown in the last few years and what do you foresee the growth being in the future?
LC: As the construction community has increased emphasis around waste management and waste diversion from landfills, we are seeing an increased interest in our program. We find that awareness around waste diversion and the need to recycle continue to grow. We have materials in both our ceilings and floorings portfolio that contain recycled content.

C&DR: What are some notable projects where a large amount of VCT flooring has been recycled?

LC: Our largest project to date has recycled 182,000 pounds and is not yet completed. Our second largest project has resulted in recycling 147,000 pounds.

Click here for more information on Armstrong's VCT Flooring Recycling Program.