InterfaceFLOR is taking its carpet recycling know-how on the road by forming alliances with regional carpet recycling operations throughout North America. The first of these relationships is with Canadian-based Aspera Recycling Inc. InterfaceFLOR is providing technical assistance that will help them implement a ReEntry-type system able to recycle end-of-life carpet tiles and broadloom into reusable fiber and PVC backing that go into InterfaceFLOR products. The collaboration was announced by Erin Meezan, Interface Inc. vice president for sustainability, during a speaking engagement at the Sustainable Brands Conference.
Since 1994, InterfaceFLOR has reclaimed more than 100 million kilograms of used carpet in North America, recycling much of it into the production of its own modular carpet tile products. This extraordinary feat takes place at InterfaceFLOR’s ReEntry 2.0 facility in LaGrange, GA, just outside of Atlanta and nearby the company’s corporate headquarters. In the process of harvesting old carpet-both its own end-of-life modular carpet tiles plus competitors’ tiles and broadloom discards from residential and commercial properties-InterfaceFLOR has created something of a micro-industry. Now the company is eyeing regional carpet recyclers, like Aspera, with whom it can share its expertise and establish similar operations. In addition to this initial rollout in Toronto, expansion is planned later this year in a few key U.S. markets. A master plan calls for even more locations throughout the coming years.
“Taking our ReEntry experience and helping to foster the development of regional recycling operations is part of InterfaceFLOR’s long-range vision to secure our supply chain and ensure we’ll have plentiful access to the recycled materials needed for our flooring products throughout the future,” explained John Wells, company president. “We’ve pledged to be Off Oil by 2020, which may seem absurdist for a manufacturer of carpeting, a product which traditionally has been petroleum based. But, in fulfilling our mission,” Wells continued, “we’ve been developing and perfecting ways to take the tons and tons of old, used carpet that’s out there and recycle it into our own products. Our LaGrange facility has proven how effectively this can be accomplished, and now we’re ready to help spread this capability throughout the U.S. and Canada, and beyond.”
According to Wells, the recycling technology that InterfaceFLOR has pioneered through ReEntry now can be replicated on different scales. It is this flexibility that is enabling the company to team with regional recyclers who are interested in growing their operations and together finding appropriate existing building locations.
“The Canadian carpet recycling landscape is a few years behind that of the U.S.,” explained Richard White, president of Aspera. “By adopting the tried and true technology platforms of the industry leader, InterfaceFLOR, Aspera is establishing itself at the forefront of carpet recycling and waste diversion in this country. We couldn’t be more delighted to have such a strong technology partner.” He added, “With waste diversion on the minds and agendas of both government and the consumer, there is finally a viable and credible solution for the Canadian market which will meet the zero waste to landfill mandate.”
In fact, given recent stirrings among lawmakers both in Canada and in the U.S., the ReEntry expansion is timely. Updates to waste diversion legislation, including banning of used carpet from landfills, are currently under review in several provincial jurisdictions in Canada, where currently 99% of post-consumer carpet and 95% of commercial carpet, including carpet tile, are landfill-bound. Although some local collection does occur, until now there have been no active processors in Canada. Most used carpet is shipped back to U.S. manufacturers, according to a report issued by the Canadian Carpet Recovery Effort (CCRE). So, the establishment of a ReEntry-based recycling operation will offer not only a more sustainable but also a more economical solution for the area.