Recycled PVB – From Windscreens to Carpet

There are over one billion cars in the world. Annually, on average 5-6% have a replacement window. The EU is pushing for recycling of these windscreens, but the laminate material (PVB) that prevents the windows from shattering has not been given a second life, until recently.

Interface has partnered with the glass recycling supply chain to process this laminate and use it in the production of carpet tiles. This means we are able to reduce the carbon footprint of our carpet tiles and extend the useful life of PVB at the same time.

Decreasing material impact

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for a typical carpet tile shows that the raw material stage is responsible for most of the impact. More specifically, the yarn and the latex precoat are the biggest contributors. The precoat is a key component of the carpet tile, which connects the yarn to the backing. Throughout the carpet industry it is typically made using a synthetic latex.

There are three ways to decrease the impact of raw materials: use less material, use more recycled material or find an alternative material with lower impact. At Interface, we are aggressively pursuing all these options. In 2008, we focused our attention on the precoat, a key component of the carpet tile.

So what’s our answer? Laminated glass from building glass and car windscreens. Car windows have been laminated to prevent shattering since the 1930s, and every year one in twenty cars has a window replaced. This generates a stream of material ensuring a plentiful supply worldwide. Most car windscreens are laminated using Poly Vinyl Butral (PVB), a material we can use as a replacement for latex in our precoat.

Using recycled PVB reduces the carbon footprint of the precoat by 80% compared to traditional latex. All standard microtuft carpet tiles are now produced with the recycled PVB precoat, reducing the environmental impact significantly.

The first product range to incorporate the PVB precoat is The Scandinavian Collection. This minimalistic microtuft offers a subtle linear design, creating a modern look that is suitable for a wide range of interiors. We plan to scale up the development and include recycled PVB precoat on as many products as possible in the future.

Watch our PVB Video