PVC and the Journey Toward Healthy, Sustainable Materials

At Interface, sustainability is at the core of who we are, so we carefully consider the materials we use in our products. We live in an industrial system where most materials are still made in ways that negatively impact our planet and our health. We do not accept that running a profitable company has to have these impacts. Instead, we are committed to showing the world a better way to do business. 

Through our commitment to Climate Take BackMC, we strive to:

  1. Eliminate chemistries of concern from our products
  2. Eliminate the use of virgin raw materials by making all our products from recycled and bio-based materials
  3. Close the loop by being responsible for our products at the end of their life
  4. Shift the carbon footprint of our products

We are often asked why we continue to use PVC plastic in our modular flooring since the potential negative impacts of this material’s life cycle have been widely publicized. 

The answer boils down to a few key things:

The healthiest plastic is the one you don’t use.

Innovation in product design and use of recycled materials has allowed Interface to dramatically reduce the amount of virgin plastic in our products, including a more than 60% reduction in the use of PVC in our carpet tile and the introduction of non-vinyl bio-based alternatives like our CQuestMCBio backing. With a long-standing screening process in place – in addition to a lack of exposure pathways – the way we manage our recycled PVC is preferable to virgin plastics.

Vinyl backed carpet tile is the most recyclable flooring.

In an era where the vast majority of flooring ends up in a landfill or an incinerator, Interface has built a true closed loop system for vinyl flooring.

Old carpet tile and  our Sound ChooiceMC LVT products can be recycled through ReEntry® to feed our 3rd party verified closed loop production system and make CQuestGB backing. This system allows us to safely make new carpet tile backing from old, avoiding the life cycle issues traditionally associated with the production and end-of-life of PVC and other plastics.

Not all PVC is created equal.

All PVC used by Interface in our carpet tile and resilient flooring is either 100% recycled (as in our CQuestGB backing) or complies with the Green Star PVC Best Practise Guidelines.

We took the unusual step of utilizing these independent guidelines developed in Australia because PVC use continues to grow despite efforts like Red Lists, making it vitally important that specifiers have a way to ask for better PVC. Compliance with this eliminates the traditional concerns about the manufacture of PVC, harmful additives like heavy metal stabilizers and phthalate plasticizers, and end of life.

While some products claim “PVC Free” as if that alone made a product healthy and sustainable, our system assesses and optimizes all materials (including PVC plastic) for their contribution to green chemistry, the circular economy, and the creation of a climate fit for life.

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