DESIGN

Lessons learned from creating a flooring line of 65% recycled post-consumer materials

Tarkett and Note (design studio) launch iQ Loop and explain what it takes to further increase the amount of recycled material.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
February 07, 2024

iQ Loop by Tarkett and Note (design studio) consists of 65% of post-consumer materials (installation waste and old used floors). It leads to a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the other vinyl floors that the flooring company is also producing in Ronneby, Sweden.

— Using post-consumer material originating from our products, we’re closing the loop of the material, extending the usage in a new product with equally good performance, Nils Säving, Nordic Environmental Specialist at Tarkett, shares.

As an interior architect and product designer at Note (design studio), Charlotte Ackemar has been responsible for defining the pattern and the colour scheme of the collection.

— Our task was to transform the 65% recycled material into a new design and knowing that the natural colour produced when mixing recycled vinyl floors is grey, we decided to use this as a strength. The collection draws inspiration from the many grey tones that surround us in daily life — shades often overlooked as mere ’grey’, yet intricately composed of various colors and textures, she says, continuing,

— We knew that due to the content we couldn’t create a collection starting with a light grey, so we took the decision to focus on the mid greys and take a deep dive in that spectrum. We wanted to celebrate and fine-tune grey to show the diversity of it and we developed an interesting new pattern that embodies the seven different tones of grey that varies from cold, neutral to warm. The pattern itself consists of a transparent layer creating a silhouette around every granule that creates a soft pattern with a depth to it that kind of resembles the texture of cork. Not making the granule itself into a pattern but rather creating a structure. iQ Loop offers a distinct collection of seven different temperatured grey, showing its true potential of supporting, matching but also being the focus of any interior. Not only will it match with existing products within Tarkett’s range but also take materials it will coexist with under consideration.

Can you take us through the challenges of creating the collection?

— It has been challenging to work under the restriction that we can’t fully see the final product with 100% finish before they hit the big button in the production line, but it has also been so interesting exploring grey with the prototypes and samples, Ackemar explains. Relying on that we know what the machines are capable of, we have put a lot of effort fine tuning the colors in the lab, which has been a blast.

What’s required to further increase the amount of recycled material in this and other lines?

— A good start would be to implement public procurement criteria to promote the use of both circular products and services, says Daniel Norén, Nordic Segment Manager Healthcare & Education at Tarkett. This to ensure that certain legislations on recycling and waste handling already in place are correctly followed as well as to make laws of the guidelines and instructions developed by the building industry. In our recycling we use post-consumer material, that is installation waste — around 10 % of ordered material goes to cut offs when fitting the area installed — and old floors at the end of life, where we have developed a unique technique to wash away residues of glue and concrete. Our ambition with launching iQ Loop is to push both that we have the technology to do recycling for real, and that we need increased collaboration with the different stakeholders in the construction industry. We need to raise the awareness to start collecting more of our material, both installation waste, but also that old floors are sent back to our factory instead of going to incineration. To succeed we need changed behaviours, but also welcome improved legislation to put pressure on recycling and use of circular materials.

Is the increase of recycled materials how you will primarily work to further lower your emissions?

— The CO2 emissions related to our products are primarily from the raw materials used and the waste management of used flooring, Nils Säving explains. With the possibility to incorporate recycled flooring material we are tackling both of these, and it has the potential to reduce a substantial amount of our CO2 impact. We are also looking into recycled material from other industries. For example, we already today use yarn made of discarded fishnets in our carpet tile flooring. Other areas we’re looking to improve are transports, our packaging as well as the production process of our flooring. Our objective is to have reduced the production of greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in 2030 compared to 2019 and have increased the share of recycled materials in our products to a 30% average, meaning 13% more than today.

And now, what do you have coming?

— We still have products in our portfolio which aren’t recyclable today and we’re working on charging that. We have more to share about this later this year. We are also making progress to reduce the carbon footprint of the products which we will share the result of in the near future, Säving shares. He adds:

— In the Nordics, there’s an increased demand and usage of reused construction products. Extending the life of already existing products is even better than recycling and we want to be part of this too.


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