The Next Economy
Forbo Closes Loop on Its 'Back to the Floor' Recycling Scheme

Dutch flooring supplier and manufacturer Forbo Flooring has now closed the loop on its Back to the Floor recycling scheme, according to Environmental Expert. Now in its third year, the scheme now recycles Forbo flooring off-cuts into new products.

Forbo Flooring Systems, part of the Swiss Forbo Group, is a global market player in linoleum, vinyl, textile and flocked floor coverings, as well as entrance flooring systems, where it has a market share of over 60 percent. The company says Back to the Floor showed great progress in its second year, collecting and recycling three times the volume of off-cuts as in 2013.

Back to the Floor partner companies are provided with free color-coded, polythene bulk bags, which are then collected by Forbo directly from the contractor’s site, making the process easy for members to participate. By collecting and recycling cushioned vinyl flooring off-cuts from the majority of manufacturers across the UK as well as Forbo’s, the scheme creates significant savings for the companies and flooring contractors by reducing waste disposal costs and improving the lifecycle of raw materials.

After signing on to the Forbo scheme just over a year ago, Oxbridge Carpets Ltd has returned six collections with notable savings. “Without a doubt it has saved us on disposal costs,” commented John Webb, Oxbridge’s Warehouse Manager. “It’s important to recycle where we can, so we see the scheme as a positive thing. All our fitters are given polythene bags for the off-cuts, which are then bulked up at our site prior to collection.”

Oxbridge Carpets Ltd also recycles its Marmoleum off-cuts back to the scheme. Marmoleum is a Cradle to Cradle (C2C)-certified material with impressive sustainability credentials: Its main component is linseed grown from flax, and it also contains resin, wood flour, lime stone, pigments and jute, creating a 97 percent natural product, 67 percent of which is vegetable-based and rapid-renewable. Marmoleum also incorporates wood flour and added tall oil — waste products from the forestry and paper industry, which Forbo recycles. Marmoleum is also biodegradable and fully recyclable.

Marmoleum off-cuts are recycled at Forbo’s plant in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, where they are shredded into fine pieces for reuse in new Marmoleum products. In addition to this recycling center, Forbo has invested in its two British plants: Tessera off-cuts are processed at its Bamber Bridge site near Preston, and Flotex and vinyl flooring at its Ripley plant.

Forbo is just the latest global player pushing the flooring industry toward a circular economic business model — with companies such as Desso, Tarkett (which acquired Desso in October) and Interface continuing to innovate with reclaimed and Cradle to Cradle (C2C)-certified materials and closed-loop flooring solutions.

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