Route 2030: Onward to LVT made from 100% recycled PVC
B.I.G. is on course to achieve a zero environmental footprint by 2030. That is right, zero. To make this journey more tangible, we would like to offer you a passenger’s seat from which you will be able to really get up close and immerse yourself in our various sustainability projects. In this edition: Onward to LVT made from 100% recycled PVC!
In the realm of LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tiles), there is a growing emphasis on reducing the reliance on PVC (polyvinyl chloride), the primary ingredient in this type of flooring. Due to PVC being a petroleum-derived plastic, it’s hard to say it is 100% sustainable. However, PVC possesses the potential for recycling and repurposing as a raw material.
Nevertheless, ongoing research is necessary to determine the appropriate composition, proportions, and elements for incorporating recycled PVC into durable flooring solutions. This pursuit extends across the industry as a whole. At B.I.G., we are dedicated to discovering methods to minimize PVC usage or ensuring that, when utilized, it can be given a second life within our hard floor solutions.
In our quest for 100% sustainable solutions, it is important to occasionally team up with external partners to gain valuable outside-in perspectives. That's why the PoCoPAdd project, which stands for Post-Consumer PVC Boosted with Additives, was established. "In this project, we collaborate with, among others, KU Leuven, Kaneka, Oleon, and Deceuninck, aiming to gain more insight into the effect of recycling on the composition of PVC, specifically the relationship between chemical composition, rheological properties, and properties of the end product of PVC after use", explains Johan Pauwels, operations manager of our LVT department. "With this knowledge, new high-performance additives will be designed to elevate post-consumer PVC to the level of new PVC, thereby increasing the amount of post-consumer PVC recyclate in current and potential new high-quality products", Johan continues.
100% sustainable boards
Getting an outside-in view is one thing. But we are also tapping into our in-house expertise to find solutions to reduce the virgin-PVC content in our hard floor vinyl solutions. Recently, thanks to our R&D Engineer Stijn Janssens, a huge step was taken to make our LVT solutions more sustainable. He ensured that the base, the underlayer of the LVT plank, can be entirely made from recyclate. "It was a search to find the right composition and components, but we succeeded!" says Stijn proudly. "We use recyclate that can exist in powder or granulate form or even in broken, rougher material. We have developed several recipes that allow us to make boards consisting of either 100% virgin material or 100% recycled PVC, depending on the availability of the waste stream we can rely on. However, we can cover the entire spectrum."
Internal and external waste
The production hall where these boards are made is spotless, not a speck of dirt can be found. "That's hardly surprising", says Stijn. "All the waste created during the production process goes back to the beginning of our production line and serves as raw material again. Nothing goes to waste; from the leftover scraps during cutting, to the dust produced during sanding.”
“We manage the internal recycling stream extremely well, the recycling of external parties, in contrast, is not always easy. The post-industrial stream poses no problem, but the post-consumer stream can be challenging at times. It's up to us to find the right partners that meet our product needs. But for now, we have been remarkably successful", Stijn continues.
Net positive impact
"If we start using waste as our raw material, we win twice. We prevent waste from ending up in landfills, and we don't have to purchase virgin material. It's a win-win situation. So, we are almost there to create a 100% recyclable LVT solution. Our finishing layer, the actual print, is 100% recyclable; it's just not made from 100% recycled PVC yet. That’s something we’re still working on. It's up to us to keep searching for the right solutions for this, but no challenge is too big for us!" Stijn concludes with a wink.