RECOFLOOR continues to champion sustainability in the flooring sector, having collected and recycled a significant 3,700-plus tonnes of waste vinyl flooring since the Take Back initiative was founded in 2009.

Flooring manufacturers Polyflor and Altro set up the UK’s award-winning national vinyl flooring recycling scheme to tackle growing volumes of waste vinyl flooring being sent to landfill.

There are now well over 700 Recofloor collectors throughout the UK and Ireland and more than 60 drop-off sites accepting waste vinyl flooring.

Post-installation offcuts are recycled back into new flooring, demonstrating the Circular Economy in action. Smooth uplifted vinyl is used to make traffic management products such as traffic cones.

As a major generator of waste, the UK construction industry is under increasing pressure to reduce its environmental impact and adopt greener practices. Key drivers of change range from government legislation to customers’ corporate sustainability programmes.

Recofloor engages with all levels of the supply chain, from manufacturers and distributors to contractors and fitters, to collect waste vinyl flooring for recycling. It has transformed attitudes towards waste flooring and contributed to positive impacts on sustainability within the building industry.

Both the environment and participants benefit from Recofloor’s sustainable, cost-effective and efficient collection system. Waste vinyl material is diverted from landfill, while contractors can reduce their waste disposal costs by up to 75% by collecting, segregating and sending their waste vinyl flooring to be recycled.

Backed with solid support from its founders Polyflor and Altro, Recofloor is a prime example of manufacturers taking responsibility for driving sustainability across the supply chain.

Polyflor technical director Bob Smith says: ‘More and more companies are recognising the wider benefits of Recofloor, not just in connection with cost savings, but also with regard to enhancing their business offering and increasing their environmental sustainability.’

Altro manufacturing and technical director John Patsavellas comments: ‘Altro is proud to be a founder of this scheme, which is a core part of our sustainability programmes. Recofloor as a scheme leads the way across Europe.

‘We have a ‘world first’ in collaboration that has created a scheme that really works. As Recofloor continues to evolve, others will find it very difficult to replicate.’

The scheme works in two ways. Bins are available at participating flooring distributors where members can drop off small amounts of waste vinyl. Flooring contractors can also collect larger volume of waste vinyl in bulk bags.

Vinyl flooring is source-segregated into smooth vinyl flooring offcuts, safety flooring offcuts and smooth uplifted flooring. These are placed in labelled bulk bags or bins for collection.

Maintaining high quality input material according to Recofloor’s specification is essential for successful recycling. Strict material separation generates a high-quality PVC recyclate from post-consumer vinyl flooring – closing the recycling loop. Waste vinyl flooring is recycled for use in new flooring and other products.

Education and training has been a crucial factor in the scheme’s success, furthering members’ understanding of what can and can’t be recycled as well as minimising any contamination in collected materials.

Distributors comprise Recofloor’s largest sector with over 40% of collections carried out from their sites. Bins at their premises accept waste flooring from fitters. Local contractors value this service, which reduces site collections and the scheme’s carbon impact.

Flooring contractors form the ‘backbone’ of Recofloor’s large and growing nationwide membership and are crucial to collecting the volumes of waste vinyl that underpin the scheme’s success.

Dave Evans, branch manager of Carpet & Flooring Camberley comments: ‘Recofloor works for us and we’re glad to be associated with it. It brings repeat business because contractors are bringing their waste material in when collecting new flooring for projects.

‘It’s a great service for our contractors because they can use our facilities as a drop-off site and divert their waste flooring from landfill. We have four big blue bins and weekly collections.’

Anthony Francis, managing director of Mayfield Floors, Stockport comments: ‘Participating in Recofloor has reduced our waste disposal costs as well as the amount of material we send to landfill. The collection services are efficient and it’s good to be doing our bit for the environment by sending back recyclable material for recycling.

‘Recofloor has helped us to win new clients and importantly reduce costs: the scheme is now an integral part of our waste management. All our vinyl waste is brought back to our premises so it can be segregated correctly and recycled. We actively promote Recofloor throughout our business, whether it’s to our clients, managers or apprentices.

‘After taking over responsibility for the Recofloor scheme from our founder Eric Francis (who gained a Silver Award for championing the scheme), Adam Kelly, our facilities manager, was taught the value of the scheme from a cost-saving standpoint and has seen it as a fundamental way of reducing our overheads.’

Recofloor’s diversion of waste vinyl flooring material from landfill provides several environmental and economic benefits through more efficient use of resources. It saves increasingly-scarce landfill space and recovers materials for reuse in new products.

The carbon footprint is further reduced through using the distribution network (Reverse Logistics) to collect material, bulking up waste vinyl at drop-off sites or getting nationwide collectors to bring waste vinyl back to their main warehouse for bulk collection.

Waste vinyl flooring from major construction sites, such as schools, hospitals and retail developments, can be recycled through Recofloor. This material can be taken back for recycling when new Polyflor or Altro flooring products are delivered to project sites – an extra environmental benefit.

PVC flooring can be processed many times into high grade recyclate to substitute virgin PVC. Increased recycled material in flooring requires less virgin material, helping reduce emissions and therefore the carbon footprint required to manufacture vinyl flooring.

Recofloor participation helps building firms to achieve their Zero Waste targets and gain extra waste BREEAM credits for their projects. It also assists with waste management plans on site and reduces disposal costs.

Neil Horne of Horne Brothers Carpets says: ‘Recofloor is excellent for us, especially for our large MOD flooring contracts from which we get a huge amount of uplifted flooring and off-cuts. Demonstrating our ability to recycle this material puts us in good stead for future contracts. Everything is about costs these days and Recofloor saves us money as material is collected, rather than put in skips.’

Members’ achievements and their contributions to the scheme are celebrated at the annual Recofloor Awards Event with Recycling Champions receiving trophies and certificates of commitment according to the volumes of material collected throughout the year.

This recognition helps winners to differentiate and develop their business, especially among clients with established corporate sustainability programmes.

The 2018 Awards Event will be held on 26 April at Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield ground hosted by guest speaker, the footballing legend Kevin Keegan.

Joe Gardner, Recofloor’s project manager says: ‘The Annual Awards is the high point in Recofloor’s calendar and provides a great opportunity for members to network, celebrate and share their recycling successes.’

Throughout last summer, Joe and his colleague Carla Eslava visited all 64 distributors on their 2017 Grand Flooring Distributor Tour from the north of Scotland to the southwest and all points east and west, including Ireland.

The visits were a great success, with productive meetings providing opportunities for the Recofloor team to give advice to members on how to increase the use of the scheme and collections among their customers.

Joe adds: ‘Recofloor continues to build on its environmental credentials, in turn helping our members to enhance theirs and contributing overall towards more a sustainable future.’
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