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PVC Is A Sustainable Choice

Tracy Perry, Altro’s sustainability, environmental and quality manager, gives the low down on the environmental credentials of vinyl flooring and what makes PVC a sustainable option:
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is commonly referred to as ‘vinyl’, and a very popular material for flooring. The BRE (Building Research Establishment) Green Guide gives A+ and A ratings for a range of vinyl (PVC) floorings; excellent ratings for sustainability.
Unlike most plastics, 57% of PVC is derived from salt, a natural and abundant material. The other 43% is derived from oil but only accounts for about 0.3% of the world’s oil consumption.
PVC manufacture is lower on energy than many other materials, requiring less energy than rubber, linoleum and wood, for example. The carbon footprint of 1kg of PVC is equivalent to that of 1kg everyday breakfast cereal.
In the past there have been concerns about the use of heavy metal additives in PVC products.

Although additives such as lead, cadmium and hexavalent chromium were used by manufacturers of vinyl flooring in the past, these are no longer used in PVC based flooring manufactured in Europe. In fact we have not used any of these additives for at least 25 years.
PVC is tough. It’s long-lasting and light-weight, all of which adds to its sustainable credentials.

When it comes to vinyl safety flooring you should always consider performance over time – sustained slip resistance means that flooring will keep performing to required standards and need replacing less often than flooring that loses slip resistance with use.
Our safety flooring is free from all phthalate plasticisers. We prefer to use bio plasticisers derived from a renewable resource, in our case European grown maize. This was one of the reasons we met the Olympic Delivery Authority’s strict criteria to supply PVC products to London 2012.
PVC is thermoplastic, it can be re-melted and is therefore recyclable. Even better, it can be recycled many times over without losing any of its physical properties.
PVC reprocesses well and offers an even smaller carbon footprint once recycled into second (or third) life applications.
In the UK, the Recofloor vinyl take back scheme collects offcuts of smooth vinyl and safety flooring for recycling. We are a co-founder of this scheme, and claims to have built the world’s first safety flooring recycling facility in 2007.
Offcuts are recycled into new flooring and any uplifted material is recycled into traffic calming products such as road cones. Since the launch of the scheme in 2009, Recofloor has collected and recycled over 1,800 tonnes of waste vinyl flooring.
PVC recycling is a big deal in Europe too. In 2012, over 325,000 tonnes of post-consumer vinyl was recycled as part of Vinyl Plus, the European PVC industry’s voluntary commitment to improve the sustainability of PVC. Vinyl Plus has been recognised by the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at