VIDEO: How Interface is turning windscreens into carpets

Modular flooring manufacturer Interface has unveiled its latest green innovation, this time creating the world's first recycled latex substitute for carpets using laminate found in car windows.

After 10 years of research, Interface essentially devised its own value network of suppliers to make use of recycled poly-vinyl butyral (PVB) – the laminate found in glass which prevents it from shattering.

“We can take PVB that would normally have been wasted, make it into a new format that can have a new life as a raw material,” explained Interface’s senior vice president of operations, Ton van Keken. “This has major financial and environmental benefits.

“This project marks a 10-year journey championing radical innovation for Interface. Not only is this a great step towards our Mission Zero goals but it validates our position as a leader of sustainable development and manufacturing.”

Circular thinking

PVB is most commonly found in car windscreens. The industry has been recycling this type of glass for some time but had found no solution for recycling the PVB.

Collaborating with new and old partners, Interface has developed a method to use recycled PVB in place of the latex pre-coat which connects the yarn to the backing on carpet tiles. This has a much better environmental impact: PVB is non-toxic, non-corrosive, and has a carbon footprint that is 80% less than the existing latex pre-coat.

Jens Holmegaard from Shark Solutions – one of Interface’s new partners for this project – said: “There are over one billion cars worldwide and 5-6% of car owners change their windscreens every year – that’s enough PVB to cover our partners’ carpet needs.”

VIDEO: From windscreens to carpets

This is the latest in a line of eco-innovations from Interface which all form part of its ‘Mission Zero’ sustainability commitment; to eliminate the firm’s impact on the environment by 2020, meaning all raw materials must be 100% recycled or bio-based.

Interface says this new innovation will bring its use of recycled or bio-based raw materials up from 43% to 66% when applied to all products. As such, the firm believes products with up to 90% recycled or bio-based content will be achievable within the next two years.

Earlier this year, edie reported on another of Interface’s eco-innovations after it developed a carpet tile which has the smallest carbon footprint of any on the market. ‘Microsfera’, a hybrid flooring solution made from recycled nylon, releases just 3kg of carbon per square-meter during its production – much lower than a typical carpet tile which releases 12kg of CO2 per m2.

Other green initiatives include operating its European manufacturing facility in the Netherlands on 100% renewable energy and joining a cross-sector initiative to recover and recycle abandoned fishing nets into textile products

Writing exclusively for edie last month, Interface’s European chief executive Rob Boogaard explained the need for businesses to collaborate and innovate like never before in order to reach a global circular economy. Read the full article here.

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie