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Green Flooring – rubber flooring

Rubber Flooring

Green Flooring - Rubber

Rubber floors have made a splash in both the flooring and green industry over the last few years. A good deal of rubber flooring is made with latex, or plant sap that's harvested from the Para rubber tree. Latex is renewable, biodegradable, and can be collected without harming the tree or surrounding environment. Rubber flooring made with natural rubber is recyclable and is available in tile form, which can help minimize waste.

Note that not all rubber flooring is green. Synthetic rubber, which accounts for a little more than 50 percent of all rubber produced worldwide, is made with petroleum, a non–renewable crude oil.

Pros

  • Latex used to make natural rubber flooring is harvested without harming the natural environment
  • Both synthetic and natural rubber can be recycled
  • Rubber flooring made from post–consumer and post–industrial waste is available
  • Rubber flooring is durable and can last for a long time if properly cared for. Potentially, this means less waste from repairs and replacement
  • Interlocking rubber floor tiles do not require adhesives (some adhesives contain VOCs*)
  • Rubber floor tiles can be replaced individually in the event of damage, rather than replacing the entire floor
  • Recycled rubber floor types can be more durable than rubber flooring made with new materials
  • Some manufacturers are able to make recycled rubber flooring without heat

    *VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are carbon-based chemical compounds that are commonly associated with allergy-like symptoms such as skin and lung irritation. They are also believed to increase cancer risk.

Cons

  • The oil extraction process for synthetic rubber pose a threat to marine environments
  • The burning of oil during the synthetic rubber manufacturing process can release harmful levels of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere
  • The transportation of latex from its source can demand high amounts of energy (e.g. Southeast Asia to United States)

Green Flooring Tips – Rubber

  • Choose rubber flooring made with recycled materials
  • Instead of rubber sheets, choose rubber tiles. Rubber tiles can be individually replaced in the event of damage, which can help minimize waste
  • Rather than throw out old rubber flooring, give it to a reclamation center so it can be recycled into new flooring

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