The Eco Flooring Market
When considering the type of flooring materials to use in a space, there is a growing awareness of the harmful chemicals that may be present within certain flooring materials. Sustainability is a top priority for the modern day consumer and the flooring category is no exception. Demand for eco-friendly flooring products has significantly increased and may be attributed to a growing awareness of global warming, environmental factors, and health concerns.
To meet the demand of consumers and activist shareholders, manufacturers are developing flooring options that use sustainable and recycled materials. This type of flooring is attractive due to the reduction in toxic chemicals in production. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are typically found in traditional flooring materials. VOCs are gases emitted in production or after installation as the flooring ages, and they are linked to health issues. The increased awareness of VOCs has resulted in the rise of the eco flooring industry, estimated at $78B in 2022 and representing ~4-10% of the global flooring market according to Future Market Insights.
Manufacturers are bringing more material innovation and variety to the perennial low-cost champs. The most recognizable being flooring lines that feature high recycled content and raw materials obtained from sustainable sources.
Benefits of Sustainable Flooring Sustainable flooring can refer to anything from natural fiber carpets to tiles made from recycled materials---as long as it is produced from renewable resources. There is a long list of benefits to using sustainable flooring alternatives, but most importantly sustainable flooring is better for the planet and better for you.
What to expect from sustainable flooring:
Improved indoor air quality.
Reduced environmental impact.
Longevity & durability.
Choosing sustainable flooring for a space is a great way to reduce its carbon footprint and create a healthy space.
Sustainable Flooring Options Recycled flooring has become one of the most sought-after types of sustainable flooring because there are no new raw materials used in its production. Green innovators have made it possible to install a new floor made from resources that would otherwise be discarded. These materials can include old leather belts, tires, or old flooring remnants. Materials such as plastic, glass, metal, and stone can also all be recycled into new flooring materials. Regardless of the materials, there are many options for a floor that do not negatively impact the environment.
New materials are out, and natural, sustainably sourced materials are in.
Here are some top sustainable flooring trends and the manufacturers leading the charge in recycled and sustainable materials:
Tile has the smallest carbon footprint of any flooring surface. This can be attributed to the ability to recover and recycle tiles and reuse them as filler material.
According to Ceramic Tileworks, it is also found that the materials used to make tile are generally found within 500 miles of manufacturing facilities, which reduces the energy and emissions that come from long-distance shipping.
Tile is completely free of dangerous chemicals, plastic, and VOCs that are commonly present in other floor types. Tiles are made from natural materials such as pure clay or recycled/reclaimed materials like glass. Even if the glass tiles are not composed of recycled glass, they are still sustainable. All glass tiles are 100% recyclable at the end of their lifespan. Additionally, tiles can last a lifetime and do not need to be replaced every 5-10 years like other flooring options.
Portobello America is one of the tile manufacturers leading the trend for sustainability within the tile industry.
Portobello America is a subsidiary of Portobello Group, the leader in ceramic surfaces in Brazil and one of the top 10 in the world. Portobello prioritizes sustainability throughout their entire production and distribution chain. Portobello has committed to 100% closed-loop water systems in the manufacturing process, 100% natural gas used in furnaces and dryers in their headquarters and has 1800m3 of water saved from human consumption with the “Let’s Take Care of Water Too” Campaign. All of Portobello’s ceramic tile is recyclable and non-toxic. A unique aspect of Portobello is their commitment to community by using regenerative extraction within their production process.
Another large tile manufacturer, Dal-Tile, is also focused on using recycled or reclaimed materials in over 99% of their tile collection.
PET is a recently developed carpeting material made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics like recycled milk jugs and soda bottles. It is created by melting down bottles, stretching them into thin fibers, and weaving those threads into a durable and comfortable fabric. PET carpeting is resistant to moisture and other types of wear and is naturally stain-resistant, therefore, not requiring chemical treatments used on most nylon carpets. At the end of a PET carpet’s lifespan, it can then be recycled into car parts, insulation, and furniture stuffing.
Mohawk is the country’s leading carpet manufacturer and boasts a patented process that reclaims plastic bottles and upcycles them into high quality carpet. Mohawk uses five-to-six billion plastic bottles each year to make its EverStrand products, making them the largest bottle recycler in the US. Mohawks Eco-Chic line also uses reclaimed, natural materials and items made from recycled elements.
At the end of use, carpet is recyclable. Many carpet installers recycle the old carpet they remove at no additional cost to the consumer. You can contact the Carpet America Recovery Effort to find out which locations in your area will recycle carpet.
Vinyl flooring is known for its great looks, easy maintenance, and durability. The material’s cost effectiveness, stain and water resistance, and easy installation have led to its popularity. Vinyl flooring is a sustainable choice because it can effectively be recycled and reused into new products. Vinyl compounds are highly flexible in their ability to be recycled into other things and can be used in a variety of applications.
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is the category's leading product. LVT’s durability allows multiple generations of recycling. HMTX Industries is an industry leader in the global luxury vinyl tile (LVT) flooring. The company serves a diverse cross-section of both the residential and commercial marketplace and is known for their transparency and commitment to sustainable flooring. The company is set to debut an innovative flooring product concept, SRP(TM), rigid core flooring that will transform waste plastic bottles into innovative, responsible flooring.
A great way to add a pop of color or pattern to your vinyl flooring is with an area rug. Natural fiber rugs are the ideal material to avoid damage to the vinyl flooring.
RugUSA offers eco-friendly rugs that are produced from recycled and plant-based renewable materials. These rugs are made from materials such as jute, sisal, and cotton. Jute Rugs are made from real, plant-based fibers and RugUSA considers them to be the most sustainable rug option. These rugs are extremely durable, provide texture, and are typically affordable.
RugUSA’s Washable Easy-Jute Rugs are woven from GRS-certified recycled polyester fibers designed to mimic the textured, natural look of jute. These rugs are great for areas that are mess prone as they can be thrown into the washing machine.
Dal-Tile has implemented the use of a mobile tile crusher that can travel between several of the company’s plants according to Floor Covering Weekly. The tile crusher was designed to efficiently crush and recycle scrap tile. This allows for scrap tile to be ground into consistent recyclable particles and incorporated safely into their new products.
Dal-Tile also has a GREENWORKS take-back program which helps reduce waste in the building industry by offering to take back unused ceramic and porcelain tiles that would otherwise end up in landfills.
Mohawk Industries carpet is sustainably certified by NSF and Underwriters Laboratories’ Environmental Claim Validation. These certifications verify the recycled content of products. The Carpet and Rug Institute’s (CRI) Green Label and Green Label Plus programs certify that Mohawk’s carpeting will not negatively affect indoor air quality.
According to AP News, Mohawk Industries has earned recognition as one of Newsweek’s 500 greenest companies in the United States in 2017. Mohawk has a Zero Landfill (ZLF) program.
The company has been able to certify 50 zero waste facilities through its Material Recovery Operations. The facility has reclaimed and upcycled more than 50 billion bottles.
HMTX joined TSC, The Sustainability Consortium. HMTX was the first flooring company to join TSC and has set the path for others to follow. Sustainability Consortium states that HMTX sets industry standards for high performing and biophysically designed products. The manufacturing processes, workplaces, global outreach, and product ingredients all reflect a dedication to the environment, all aspects of human well-being, social justice, and equity.
Here at Bluestock Advisors, we are excited to see the strides towards sustainability in the flooring category. We believe in the initiatives flooring manufacturers are taking to improve the quality of homes, businesses, and our planet. These initiatives directly align with our purpose at Bluestock Advisors, which is to improve the quality of life of our clients, employees, and families.
By Shannon Doyle & Julie Singh