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Rubber flooring for school – Uses recycled rubber

by Darren
Polyflor Ecore_Floor_Jnl713

A 700 m² flooring project at Redhill School in Sandton was completed in mid-November last year using imported Ecore rubber flooring from recycled tyres by international commercial flooring company Polyflor South Africa.

Polyflor SA says education premises vary and are often complex sites. Floors of any school or college have diverse needs that not only differ from area to area, but also depend on the age of the children, their expected activity and traffic levels around the school.

Redhill is a 105-year-old, co-educational, multi-faith, independent school with a strong tradition of ensuring that every child receives good care. The school delivers pre-preparatory, preparatory and high school education, which makes it one of the top-performing Independent Examination Board schools in South Africa. This contributes to quality flooring being an important factor.

“Developing a rubber underlayment is simple but developing a revolutionary fusion bond, where the underlayment adheres to a wear layer, is not. It takes time, years of dedication and a lot of labour to create a technology that has record-setting levels of recycled content, uses extreme technological advancements and is completely original,” says Polyflor SA marketing director Tandy Coleman-Spolander.

“Laying the Ecore floor requires special skills because the floor is imported. You need to give the material the opportunity to rest and acclimatise to the area where it is going to be laid before it is installed.”

“We also needed to use special gluing techniques which are different from those used when installing vinyl floors. Another factor that needed to be taken into consideration was the checking of damp levels in the floor screed before installation could begin,” she explains.

Polyflor SA uses a patent-pending itstru technology, which allows a wear layer to be fused to a recycled-rubber backing that contains up to 97% post-consumer rubber. It creates a fusion-bonded product with anti-fatigue capabilities that meets the standards for low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. Itstru technology allows greater design diversity and more sustainable flooring options for the education, health and fitness, as well as the retail and healthcare sectors.

“The Ecore ecological commitment goes beyond the landfill as it controls every aspect of its operations to limit waste, cut energy use, protect natural resources and ensure product safety. As a result of priding ourselves on manufacturing environment-friendly products, this has enabled us to produce more than two-million pounds of waste a year, but send only 1.3% of it to the landfill,” says Coleman-Spolander.

Polyflor SA is the sole distributor of the Ecore range of floors in South Africa. Ecore is the largest consumer of recycled scrap-tyre rubber in North America and it reuses more than 80-million pounds of material each year. This is equivalent to keeping more than 2 000 trailer loads of discarded tyres out of landfills in the US or conserving more than one-million barrels of oil. The company actively encourages its customers to join the movement.

“Ecore floors are suited to public, institutional and commercial buildings, where ease of maintenance and long life under heavy traffic are required. The floors are also cigarette-burn resistant, which is advantageous for public buildings,” she points out.

Research and Development “For several years our research and development commitment to environmental matters has been significant and increasing yearly. In terms of affiliations we have been working with Manchester University’s chemical engineering team on carbon footprint models to understand how we can decrease the environmental impact of our processes.”

“We also continue to investigate alternative materials to produce the most environmentally sound and safe vinyl flooring possible,” explains Coleman-Spolander.

Polyflor SA concludes that it is working to ensure the compatibility of its products with newer solvent-free and low-VOC adhesives to decrease any environmentally negative elements, while maintaining key performance criteria.

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