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Measuring Carpet’s Environmental Footprint

Commitment to transparenCy adhesive

In today’s environment of green claims and greenwash, sustainability leaders are recognizing the benefits of increased transparency. Transparency is a critical step towards allowing the market to make informed decisions. InterfaceFLOR is dedicated to transparency as illustrated by our annual EcoMetrics report and the publishing of the industry’s first third party verified Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) in North America. An EPD reports environmental impacts for the full life cycle of a product. We are taking another step towards transparency by providing an example of how we use Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as a measurement tool for decision-making and product design.
Life CyCLe assessment at interfaCefLor

Full spread glue is the traditional method of carpet installation. However glue and its packaging have an environmental impact. TacTiles® eliminate the need for adhesives, connecting the tiles to each other, thereby creating a floating floor. The environmental footprint of TacTiles compared to glue is illustrated in Figure 1 at the bottom. Based on LCA, TacTiles (shown in yellow) have an environmental footprint that is over 90% lower than that of traditional glue (shown in green), and generate less waste during installation. TacTiles can only be used with InterfaceFLOR’s GlasBac® or GlasBacRE backing systems due to their superior dimensional stability.
fiber

InterfaceFLOR’s holistic approach to sustainability leads us to look for the best way to measure the environmental footprint of our products. Individual environmental attributes like recycled content do not capture the impacts associated with avoiding raw material extraction and production of raw materials or the manufacture of the final product. At InterfaceFLOR we understand that decisions about materials and their sustainability must consider how they are extracted, processed, used, and handled at the end of its life – and the environmental impacts that occur in each and every phase of the product’s life cycle. The true footprint of a product is only seen when this more detailed analysis, such as an LCA, is performed.
Comparative LCa of aLternatives

Recycled nylon (shown in green) has a much smaller environmental footprint on all impact categories compared to virgin nylon, both type 6 (yellow) and 6,6 (blue). See figure 2 at the bottom.
baCking

Figure 3 below illustrates a comparative LCA of InterfaceFLOR’s GlasBacRE backing system, made from recycled post-consumer PVC carpet tile, with three alternatives: ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA polyolefin), polyurethane, and virgin PVC composite (InterfaceFLOR’s GlasBac backing system). This LCA is based on the context of using these materials specifically for carpet tile backing. It is important to remember that LCA depends on assumptions of product use.
In Figure 3 (below), the EVA polyolefin formulation is set as the baseline case at 100%, represented by the blue footprint area, and the LCA impacts of alternatives are measured against this baseline. In every one of the eight impact categories, GlasBacRE (with recycled PVC composite) has the lowest environmental impacts compared to all alternatives. GlasBac (with virgin PVC composite) has the 2nd smallest footprint. EVA polyolefin is worse than virgin PVC in every impact category. Polyurethane is worst in 5 impact categories. Recycled Global WarmingPVC consistently has the smallest footprint. Global Warming Global Warming
120% *The 100% 80% Fossil Global Warming 175% Comparative LCAs shown below are not peer reviewed. Global Warming 120% 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0 150% 175%

Comparative LCA is a critical tool in our product design process that allows us to evaluate the potential benefits or disadvantages of using one material over another. Our Research and Development department is constantly evaluating alternative materials that will improve our products and move our company closer to our Mission Zero goals of zero environmental footprint. We have examined many alternatives for our adhesive, fibers, and backing systems. Global Warming Global Warming Global Warming
Global Warming
120% 100% 100% 100%

Global Warm
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og
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100%Fossil Fuel Fossil Fuel 80% Embodied Embodied 75% Energy Smog Global Warming Energy Energy Fossil Fuel Energy 60% 75% Energy 100% 50% Smog 25% 0
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Fuel 120% Depletion Embodied60% 100% Energy
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Smog 125%Smog Fossil Fuel Global Warming Depletion Fossil 175% 100% Fuel 150% Depletion 75%
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0 Acidification

Acidification Acidification

Embodied 0 Energy Energy Human Health, Human Health, Human Health, Particulates Particulates Particulates Human Health, Particulates

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Ozone Ozone Depletion Depletion Ozone Human Health, Smog Acidification Depletion Particulates Human Health, Human Health, Smog Acidification FIBER Acidification Smog INTERFACEFLOR GRID-SET GREEN GLUE 2000 VIRGIN TYPE 6,6 NYLON Particulates Particulates Human Health, Green Smog TACTILES InterfaceFLOR Grid-Set VIRGIN TYPE 6 Fiber Alternatives Figure 1. INSTALLATION SYSTEM Figure 2. NYLON FIBER RECYCLED NYLON FIBER Particulates Glue 2000 GREEN GLUE NTERFACEFLOR GRID-SET GREEN GLUE 2000 INTERFACEFLOR GRID-SETvs TacTiles 2000 VIRGIN TYPE 6,6 NYLON VIRGIN TYPE 6,6 NYLON FIBER FIBER

Eutrophication Eutrophication Ozone Eutrophication Depletion

Eutrophication

Human Health, POLYURETHANE Acidification EVA POLYOLEFIN Particulates Figure 3. Backing Alternatives
INTERFACEFLOR GLASBAC POLYURETHANE INTERFACEFLOR GLASBACRE

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EutrophicationDepletion Ozone Depletion Eutrophication

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INTERFACEFLOR VIRGIN TYPE TACTILES INSTALLATION TACTILES INSTALLATION SYSTEM GRID-SET GREEN GLUE 2000 6 NYLON FIBER TYPE 6 NYLON FIBER 6,6 NYLON FIBER SYSTEM VIRGIN TYPE VIRGIN TACTILES INSTALLATION SYSTEM RECYCLED NYLON FIBERRECYCLED NYLON FIBER TYPE 6 NYLON FIBER VIRGIN RECYCLED NYLON FIBER

EVA POLYOLEFIN EVA POLYOLEFIN POLYURETHANE EVA POLYOLEFIN INTERFACEFLOR GLASBAC INTERFACEFLOR GLASBAC INTERFACEFLOR GLASBAC INTERFACEFLOR GLASBACRE INTERFACEFLOR GLASBACRE INTERFACEFLOR GLASBACR

LCa Lessons for reduCing environmentaL impaCts of Carpet

InterfaceFLOR has a long history of practicing LCA. Life Cycle Assessment is just one of many evaluation tools we use for understanding our product design options and their respective environmental impacts. We employ LCA experts and use rigorous and internationally-respected databases and software (GaBi4). Through LCA, we have learned that there are several key factors to reducing the environmental impacts of carpet tile. Two of the most important factors are product performance and reduced use of virgin raw materials, specifically nylon and glue. InterfaceFLOR has invested in technology to close the loop on our raw materials – both in the backing and in the nylon, and eliminate the need for adhesive. Beyond environmental impact, a critical metric is product performance. Full spread adhesive required for installing EVA polyolefin backing, compromises the performance and ability to remove tiles. Given these two critical attributes – performance and environmental – InterfaceFLOR has chosen to remain committed to GlasBacRE backing instead of switching to EVA polyolefin or alternatives. Our commitment to transparency and sustainability, combined with our commitment to product quality and performance, means you can trust InterfaceFLOR for your modular carpet needs.
The Basics of Life Cycle Assessment Life Cycle Assessment is a tool used to evaluate the environmental burdens associated with a product or process. A complete assessment involves capturing the materials, energy and wastes involved in each phase of the product’s life cycle. These environmental impacts are quantified in eight key categories and then opportunities are identified and evaluated for improvement. A detailed LCA requires the evaluation of all phases of a product’s life cycle: raw material extraction and processing; internal manufacturing; transportation and distribution; use, reuse, and maintenance; and recycling or final disposal.

Reading an LCA Footprint Graph These are complicated graphs, representing a complicated analysis. In order to get a sense of these data, some people like to use the “squint” test. If you squint and look at these graphs, which color jumps out at you as having the smallest area? This corresponds to the material with the smallest footprint. Or, as others like to say, when a material “steps” on the earth, the colored area represents the footprint it leaves behind. The smaller the footprint, the better off our planet is.

LCA Impact Categories used in assessing environmental impacts: Acidification – Causes damage to vegetation, buildings, aquatic life, and human health. Eutrophication – An increase in nutrients in water or soil that affects biological balance of resident populations. Global Warming – The impact of emissions that contribute to the “greenhouse effect” and disrupt nature’s control of the atmospheric system. Human Health Particulates – Measures the impact of particulate matter (as from power plants) in the air on human health. Ozone Depletion – The thinning of the earth’s stratospheric ozone layer due to emissions adversely affects human health, natural resources and the environment. Smog – Reactive chemical compounds ( from VOCs) cause adverse effects on human health, ecosystems and crops. Fossil Fuel Depletion – Consumption of limited non renewable petroleum resources. Embodied Energy – A combination of the net energy required for any processing as well as the energy value of the material itself.

Issued 08/20/2009 Mission Zero and the Mission Zero mark are trademarks of Interface, Inc.