Floor plans

Features - Emerging Markets

Major retailers are recycling flooring from renovation and demolition jobs with help from manufacturer take-back programs.

July 14, 2014
CDR Staff

Vinyl composition tile (VCT) is common flooring used in retail settings, and large retailers like Minneapolis-based Target and Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co. have worked with flooring manufacturer Armstrong World Industries, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to recycle their floors at locations across the United States.

Recently, Armstrong named Kroger as its 2013 Flooring Recycler of the Year. The award recognizes organizations that made significant environmental contributions by recycling VCT materials during demolition projects, resulting in waste reduction in landfill materials, transportation and energy, Armstrong says.

Kroger received this award, according to Armstrong, because of its commitment to waste reduction as demonstrated by its efforts to reclaim VCT from multiple stores throughout the country in 2013.

Kroger began recycling VCT flooring, removed during renovation of its grocery stores, nationwide in 2013 through Armstrong’s VCT Recycling Program. To date, the grocery store chain has reclaimed more than 1 million pounds of VCT material.

“Kroger is committed to achieving ‘zero-waste’ facilities and we are continually exploring new ways to achieve this,” says Suzanne Lindsay-Walker, director of sustainability at Kroger. “Our facility engineering teams across our family of stores were instrumental in working with Armstrong to implement the VCT Recycling Program.”

Getting with the program

Target has reclaimed more than 1.2 million pounds VCT from multiple stores throughout the United States in 2012 and earned the Flooring Recycler of the Year from Armstrong for its efforts that year. Target began implementing recycling of its VCT in 2011. Most recently, the company recycled more than 20,000 pounds of VCT from a Target store in Las Vegas.

Armstrong says its reclamation program for VCT is the first program of its kind to reclaim Armstrong VCT and qualifying competitive VCT flooring products from demolition and renovation projects.

Through the program, VCT flooring is recycled in a closed-loop, postconsumer stream with reclaimed material and is incorporated into new flooring products. Armstrong has regional recycling facilities in California, Illinois, and Mississippi.

Since 2007, Armstrong reports it has reclaimed and recycled more than 10 million pounds of postconsumer VCT worldwide, representing 5,000 tons of material diverted from landfill.

Armstrong’s VCT Recycling Program is available for jobs 8,000 square feet and larger. The company accepts several of its VCT flooring brands into the program as well as qualified VCT flooring from other manufacturers. Armstrong lists the following instructions on its VCT Recycling Program brochure available at www.armstrong.com/commercialflooring to establish eligibility for a VCT recycling project. The company has a step-by-step process for contractors to follow:

  1. Call 877-276-7876, option 2 for flooring, then 7 for recycling to be prequalified, and sign and return the Recycling Agreement.
  2. Approximately two to four weeks before demolition, specially labeled gaylord boxes will ship to the site.
  3. Remove furniture, partitions, gondolas and shelving, sweep up and dispose of debris.
  4. Remove old tile with a floor scraper and shovel into the gaylord boxes (Do not use excessive heat to remove tile.)
  5. Call 877-276-7876, option 2, then 7, to arrange for pickup.
  6. Attach the provided shipping labels to the gaylord boxes on any side and cover the top with stretch wrap.


Tile milestone

Manufacturers also are recycling other types of flooring in great quantities across the country. Tile manufacturer Crossville Inc., Crossville, Tennessee, has diverted 40 million pounds of fired porcelain since launching its Tile Take-Back program and TOTO USA partnership. These recycling initiatives are based on the company’s proprietary process for recycling fired porcelain products, including postconsumer materials. Through Tile Take-Back, Crossville says it is able to recycle previously installed tile collected from its distribution network, as well as scraps that result from tile cutting during installation, sizing or sample creation.

Through its TOTO partnership, Crossville receives preconsumer-fired porcelain toilets that do not meet quality standards; prior to the partnership, these cast-offs were being sent to landfills for disposal.

All 40 million pounds of diverted material have been or will be recycled into feed stock to manufacture new tile, leading Crossville to maintain net waste consumption at its plants for a third consecutive year. Net waste consumption is achieved by using more waste than is created during production.

Between both Tile Take-Back and the TOTO USA partnership, Crossville says it achieved the following in 2013:

  • ground and reused 7.7 million pounds of fired scrap produced at the company’s plants that would have previously gone to landfills;
  • received and recycled 87,411 pounds of waste including scraps and post-consumer tile extracted from renovation projects; and
  • received and recycled more than 7.3 million pounds of scrap porcelain from TOTO.

Since the Tile Take-Back launch in 2009, the company’s cumulative recycling totals include:

  • nearly 18 million pounds of fired scrap produced at Crossville’s plants;
  • more than 300,000 pounds of scrap and postconsumer tile; and
  • 20.9 million pounds of scrap porcelain from TOTO USA.

Crossville officials state that the 2013 increase was the result of a higher volume of sanitaryware sent by TOTO, as well as more internally produced fired scrap resulting from the trend toward the popularity of larger and modular sizes achieved through cutting of field tile.

Tile Take-Back and the TOTO USA partnership are just two of many sustainable practices Crossville says it maintains companywide.

The Tile Take-Back program is Crossville’s answer to the major environmental problem facing the tile industry today: the recycling of fired tile.

Because Crossville says this program is beneficial throughout the industry, the company accepts postconsumer tile from other brands as well as projects not originating from Crossville.

In 2011, Crossville launched a partnership with sanitaryware manufacturer TOTO USA to receive and recycle that company’s fired porcelain refuse.

Today, there is recycled content in every square foot of porcelain tile produced by Crossville because of the harvested material from TOTO, reducing the need for raw materials for tile production, the company says.

Crossville, founded in 1986, says it is the first U.S. tile manufacturer to achieve the following:

  • produce large format tile on site;
  • manufacture tile with certified recycled content;
  • develop the Tile Take-Back program for recycling fired porcelain tile;
  • achieve certification of its waste recycling programs;
  • achieve the Tile Council of North America’s (TCNA’s) Green Squared certification for all of its U.S.-produced tile lines;
  • distribute a complete line of large format, 3 millimeter-thin porcelain panels (Laminam by Crossville); and
  • become a net consumer of waste.

More information on Crossville’s Tile Take-Back Program, as well as the company’s partnerships, is available at www.crossvilleinc.com


Tile talk
Armstrong World Industries, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, answers questions about its Vinyl Composite Tile (VCT) Flooring Recycling Program in an exclusive Q&A available at www.CDRecycler.com/cdr0714-armstrong-vct-qa.aspx.