History of Eco-Friendly Flooring
How did eco-friendly flooring made from recycled rubber become so popular? Recycled rubber derives from a manufacturing process that originated in the mid-1980s. Prior to 1985, the standard method of disposing rubber vehicle tires was to simply toss them in a landfill. Unfortunately, rubber is not a biodegradable material and these tires would pile up over time and, according to CalRecycle, millions of these tires are being still disposed of every year taking up valuable space that could be used for waste that is biodegradable. Additionally, over time, these tires become breeding grounds for vermin and disease, as well as giving off harmful emissions. The effect this has on the surrounding ecology is very detrimental and eventually led to the production of eco-friendly flooring in an effort to reduce the amount of environmental damage brought on by discarded rubber. When scientists began to alert manufacturers about the environmental impact that these old tire mountains were having on the environment, it was clear that something had to be done. They found their answer in recycling the rubber. Thanks to this discovery, the stage was set for the expansion of new eco-friendly flooring.
1. What is Eco-Friendly Flooring Made of?
Eco-friendly rubber flooring is made up of three main materials: natural rubber, recycled rubber, and reclaimed rubber. Each rubber variation comes with their own set of unique characteristics; however, they are all eco-friendly and cost-effective alternatives to other flooring options. Natural rubber is, as its name implies, a natural form of rubber that can be organically found in nature and harvested to create eco-friendly flooring. Recycled and reclaimed rubber, on the other hand, are made from shredded vehicle tires that have been repurposed and made into sheets to create sustainable flooring. Reusing these tires as environmentally friendly flooring frees up space for biodegradable waste in landfills, allowing the surrounding environment to “breathe” just a little better.
1(a). Natural Rubber
The most basic kind of eco-friendly flooring material is natural rubber. Rubber is a naturally occurring substance that is produced from the sap of the Hevea brasiliensis tree, which is found most commonly in Africa, South America, India, and South East Asia and Indonesia. This sap is collected by making cuts in the trees, before it is processed and formed into the finished material which can be used in eco-friendly flooring. For many, the cultivation of this plant and its resources is a point of pride, as well as a means of making a living. When it comes to producing recycled rubber flooring, natural rubber is perfect because it is made through a truly sustainable process. Once a tree has been tapped for its latex, it is left to recover completely. Natural rubber is a very versatile material that can be used in products beyond green flooring, and is sometimes mixed with synthetic rubbers in order to give a product enhanced oil and chemical resistant properties. By itself, however, it is an elastic, durable and cost-effective environmentally friendly flooring option. Furthermore, it was the only type of eco-conscious sustainable flooring available for a long time.
1(b). Recycled Rubber
Recycled rubber flooring is a desirable flooring option because it offers superior levels of long-term durability thanks to the tire rubber material that sustainable flooring products are made from. The shredded rubber material is molded back together and the result is eco-friendly flooring that is grainy in texture. The rubber material in tires is manufactured to endure UV rays, ozone, moisture, and physical abrasions. One of the best aspects of recycled rubber flooring is that it retains the qualities of the original material. With this kind of durable rubber in use, our line of eco-friendly flooring products can withstand the rigors of use in areas like gyms, garages, warehouses, and many other commercial and industrial venues where the impact of heavy equipment may be present. However, the benefits of eco-friendly flooring reach much further than durability. The recycling process which is used to create green flooring is actually extremely cheap to carry out and, as a result, any environmentally friendly flooring made from recycled rubber is very cost-effective, because the savings from production are passed on to the consumer.
1(c). Reclaimed Rubber
Reclaimed rubber and recycled rubber are similar but have differences in the way they are produced since they are both made from repurposed vehicle tire rubber. However, reclaimed rubber is made when recycled rubber is broken down and re-vulcanized. Vulcanization is the process of heating up scrap pieces of vehicle tire rubber with sulfur to meld them together to form a larger, more solid piece of rubber. Like recycled rubber, a reclaimed floor is impervious to harsh outside forces such as direct sunlight and ozone. But, this process of vulcanization creates a more solid finish for reclaimed flooring than recycled rubber flooring creating a non-porous surface that is better at resisting moisture than recycled rubber.
2. Benefits of Eco-Friendly Flooring
Eco-friendly flooring features excellent protective qualities for both people and surfacing. Not only does it provide a tough and durable flooring option, but it can also provide many environmental and practical benefits. Rubber naturally have anti-slip properties that allow your feet to effectively grip onto the surface of a rubber floor. To further enhance traction, some reclaimed and recycled rubber flooring also come with traction enhancing surface designs or patterns for better anti-slip qualities. In addition to stabilizing your footing, our sustainable flooring products also safeguard existing floors made from more fragile materials like wood and tile from the damage that can be caused by high volumes of foot traffic or heavy equipment. The repurposed materials eco-friendly flooring is made of also offers environmental benefits that reduces your carbon footprint while lasting a long time, saving you money in frequent replacements. With eco-friendly flooring in place, you will be sparing yourself any future unwanted repair costs. Recycled rubber flooring is great for consumers in terms of practicality. However, it is also great for the environment thanks to the materials used to make it.
Rubber naturally has a high coefficient of friction which allows it to retain its traction abilities even when moisture is present. More often than not, eco-friendly rubber flooring is installed to help prevent slip and fall accidents, whether it be residentially or commercially. Since rubber will retain its traction even when exposed to moisture, eco-friendly flooring can be used interchangeably indoors and outdoors. Additionally, eco-friendly flooring made from rubber will also help keep equipment or machines firmly planted on its surface to prevent accidents from occurring when they are in use.
2(b). Floor Protection
In addition to its superior traction creating abilities, environmentally friendly flooring made from rubber is also the ideal flooring option for floor protection. Rubber is the ideal material for protective flooring options due to its durability and elasticity. This sustainable flooring absorbs the force of impact and evenly distributes vibrations across its surface to prevent the vibrations from concentrating on a single point and causing damage. Expensive flooring options such as hardwood or ceramic tile are also the easiest to damage; however, even concrete flooring can be damaged with enough exposure to heavy wear and tear. Depending on the level of wear and tear your environmentally friendly flooring will be experiencing, there are different thicknesses available ranging from as thin as 1/8 of an inch to as thick as 3 inches.
Imagine that you are a business owner in charge of a large warehouse distribution center and you are given the task of ensuring that proper eco-friendly flooring is installed all throughout the facility. When it comes to covering a large area, affordability matters. When compared to synthetic rubber products, recycled rubber is the clear winner. Rubber-Cal appreciates that not every budget is the same and when an eco-conscious and cost-effective reclaimed floor alternative can be offered, we are happy to provide it. Eco-friendly flooring helps ease the burden on both wallets and the environment. Additionally, environmentally friendly flooring made from rubber will also save you in reparations as it is a durable and protective layer between any damaging force and the surface of the subflooring underneath.
2(d). Environmental Contribution
According to ScienceDaily, in an online research publication, the estimated annual carbon footprint per United States resident is 20 tons. A carbon footprint is a popular way of measuring the amount of carbon dioxide emissions generated by the energy requirements of any one person. Obviously, the higher a person carbon footprint, the more negative their impact on the environment. This is why it is so crucial to utilize energy-saving methods in your day-to-day life – a premier example being the utilization of eco-friendly flooring. Another environmental advantage when it comes to creating environmentally friendly flooring, other than striving to minimize your carbon footprint, is its sustainability. Reclaimed flooring and recycled rubber flooring are the ideal sustainable flooring because of its longevity. It can provide eco-friendly flooring that lasts for 20 years or more, as long as it is properly maintained. The lifespan is even longer when tiles are used, because they can be swapped out if they suffer high levels of wear. When your green flooring does finally need to be replaced, the material can be recycled again. When it comes to sustainable flooring, it doesn’t get much better than that.
As a company, Rubber-Cal tries to do our part in reducing waste in the environment by using eco-conscious rubber whenever and wherever we can and by offering environmentally friendly flooring options for our customers to choose from. Our line of eco-friendly flooring can provide durable protection for a wide variety of applications and is versatile enough to be used both indoors and outdoors. Our green flooring is affordable and will help you contribute to reducing the amount of waste in the ecosystem. Now that the benefits of sustainable flooring are available to you, do your part to keep our planet clean.