What do the dramatic graphics adorning the various buildings, buses and vehicles at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, have to do with flooring? Everything, if you’re Mannington Mills.
Thanks to a partnership with 3M Canada, supplier of the graphics, and the Vancouver Organizing Committee, once the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are concluded, the material—about 200,000 square feet or approximately the area of three football fields—will be shipped to Mannington’s headquarters in Salem, N.J., where it will be turned into a key ingredient in a mixture used to make high recycled content Premium Tile flooring, which already contains post-consumer recycled content from waste streams, including drywall and VCT reclaimed from renovation sites.
The colorful graphics adorn such buildings as the Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver Olympic Centre and Richmond Olympic Oval, as well as 500 buses, 4,600 other vehicles and eight ice resurfacing machines.
John Emmons, director of commercial manufacturing at Mannington, said the partnership came at the perfect time because the company has been “looking for waste streams to increase the amount of post-consumer content that we can use in our products.”
Last year, the mill diverted more than 19 million pounds of previously used flooring and drywall from landfills into its 12-inch Premium Tile for the commercial market.
Richard Chartrand, 3M Canada’s vice president, display and graphics business, said, “One of the simplest ways to conserve resources is to reuse what you can. Many other materials have found second lives as flooring products through Mannington’s unique process and we are thrilled it can accommodate the graphics we produced.”
Dave Kitts, Mannington’s vice president, environment, confirmed, “We’ve found second lives for many flooring products” and added the mill “was intrigued by the opportunity presented by 3M Canada.”
That opportunity came about through the help of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, which introduced 3M Canada to Mannington. The graphic materials, essentially large stickers, share chemistry— for example, vinyl—with raw materials used in Mannington’s manufacturing process.
When planning for the building and vehicle graphics, 3M noted how it wanted to support the company’s sustainability objectives as well as those of the Vancouver Organizing Committee which introduced a sustainable purchasing and ethical sourcing program.
Mannington was chosen, Chartrand explained, because of the reputation it has gained in being able to reuse/recycle what are considered “challenging” materials such as post-use adhesive-backed graphics like the ones 3M Canada makes. “Most recycling facilities would quickly turn away from the colorful, irregular shaped lumps that the graphics result in after use, but Mannington was up for the challenge. 3M considers this recycling program a significant step in the right direction for creating a positive environmental shift in our industry.”
Kitts acknowledged Mannington has invested in technology that has helped the company obtain a leadership position in recycled flooring. For this project, he told FCNews the mill did pilot work before fully committing. “We got samples of the take-back product and experimented with grinding it and incorporating it into product. It worked well, and we are confident that it’ll be successful. So, we’ve done the due diligence and are ready, once the Olympics are over, to begin.”
Based on a timeline from 3M, the graphics will all be removed by April 23 and begin their journey east to Mannington the following day. Mannington is expected to use the material in production starting in mid May.
For more on the project, call Mannington at 856.339.5884.