Fishman Flooring Solutions’ Rob Hoffman, director of architecture and design, and Tarkett North America’s Diane Martel, vice president for environmental planning and strategy, recently sat down to talk about Tarkett’s ReStart Recycling and Reclamation Program. Hoffman said the program—of which Fishman is the newest distributor partner—is important to flooring installers, floor covering service providers, architects, specifiers, end-users and other professionals. Hoffman and Martel both shared their thoughts on the program, the involvement of both companies and their goals in partnering.

Can you explain the Tarkett ReStart Recycling and Reclamation Program? Why is it important to the marketplace?

Martel: ReStart is a global recycling program for flooring products that Tarkett initiated in 2010. Under the program, floors that have been replaced and flooring job scrap—such as rubber, vinyl and linoleum tile and sheet, wall base, floor-finishing accessories and tread cuttings—are collected and returned to Tarkett to be repurposed or recycled. Distributor partners like Fishman Flooring Solutions are critical to the program because they collect the materials for us.

The program has two objectives. First, to keep these products out of landfills, which is an important priority for cities and states and even nationally. Second, to help slow the drain on our natural resources by recycling or repurposing as many of these products as possible.

The resource drain is a big problem. By August of last year, the world had used its share of natural resources for the entire year and had to borrow resources from this year. Depleting our natural resources can’t continue. So more than anything, this is about doing the right thing.

The program is also important to the marketplace because many contractors have sustainability or environmental mission statements and participating in the ReStart program helps fulfill them. It also enables them to differentiate themselves from the competition and be seen in regional markets as environmental leaders.

Tarkett had a recycling program in place since 2003, called ReUse. How does the current ReStart program differ?

Martel: The ReUse program was a reclamation program linked to our Azrock brand and involved a limited number of products. The ReStart program is much broader.

How does ReStart benefit flooring installers and floor covering service providers?

Hoffman: Participating in this program just makes good business sense. First, ReStart is a value-added service that installers and service providers can offer to facility managers and end-users. Second, installers and service providers can benefit from reduced disposal fees and improve their image in the marketplace at the same time. Additionally, this program benefits the environment and future generations, and we all have a vested interest in that.

What does a flooring installer or a floor covering service provider have to do to participate in the program? Is there a cost for participation?

Hoffman: The best way to get involved is to do business with a distributor partner in ReStart. If distributors aren’t part of the program, installers and service providers should encourage them to get involved. There are no out-of-pocket costs to participate, although there might be a minor investment of time for handling the materials to be recycled.

In Fishman’s case, we’ll be responsible for most of the logistical work. We’ll provide installers and service providers with bins and bags for samples, scrap and old inventory. We’ll take the materials to our facilities when we deliver new products to a job site. Using the delivery truck to take back the material to be recycled is important from an environmental perspective, because we’ll be conserving fuel and not generating extra emissions. The final step will be transporting the materials to Tarkett for recycling.

In addition to Fishman Flooring Solutions, are there other flooring distributors participating? How is Tarkett promoting the program?

Martel: E.J. Welch is partnering with us and covering parts of the Midwest. NRF Distributors in Augusta, Maine, became a ReStart partner in January 2013. The Erv Parent Group is a consolidator serving the western provinces of Canada and is looking to expand its involvement over time. Diamond W Floor Covering in California and Arizona is also a partner.

As for promotional activities, there’s an entire section on the Tarkett website devoted to ReStart. Brochures about the program are also available and we’re proactively making presentations to architects, designers and end-users with the goal of having them specify products that can be reclaimed or recycled.

Fishman is currently conducting a ReStart pilot program in Richmond, Va. What key things have you learned from the pilot program?

Hoffman: We’re in the initial stages of the pilot program, so our learning curve is steep. It’s important to note that Tarkett requires that all new distributor partners start with a pilot program and only expand when they feel comfortable doing so.One thing we’re focusing on is refining the process for collecting materials. We’re also looking at the best ways to store them until we ship them to Tarkett.

To me, however, the most important thing we’ve learned is that 100 percent of the flooring installers and service providers we’ve talked to about ReStart have responded enthusiastically. That tells me that the people in our industry really understand why sustainability and protecting the environment are so important.

Why is Fishman Flooring Solutions putting so much emphasis on this program?

Hoffman:  The philosophy that drives Fishman’s business is to focus 110 percent on delighting the customer every day. Each year, we have a slogan that helps us keep our customer focus. The slogan this year is “Care More.” We care more about our customers, but caring more goes beyond them to things like the safety of our employees, sustainability and protecting the environment.

Do you consider the ReStart program a strategic initiative for Tarkett? Why?

Martel: Yes. Tarkett’s environmental strategy is based on two approaches: Cradle to Cradle and Circular Economy. Cradle to Cradle means we focus on the end of the use of a product rather than the end of its useful life. Our goal is to transform waste into resources for new products of equal or better quality.

Circular Economy has four pillars: making products with good materials, resource stewardship, creating people-friendly spaces, and closing the loop by repeating the process with recycled or reused products. As I said earlier, it’s about keeping flooring products out of landfills and not needlessly draining our natural resources.

What are Fishman’s objectives over the next five years as a partner in the ReStart program? How will you measure the success of these objectives?

Hoffman: Short term, our objective is to have the ReStart program up and running at every one of our locations by the end of this year. That’s pretty ambitious, but we’ll do our best to make that happen. Longer term, we want to have 100 percent of our customer base participating in ReStart by 2020. That’s the ultimate measure of our success.

What about Tarkett? How will you measure the success of the program over the next five years?

Martel: By the end of the decade, our goal is to double the amount of material we recycled in 2010. That’s a challenging goal, but we’re making progress. Last year, Tarkett recycled approximately 19 million pounds of products. That’s the equivalent of one 18-wheeler of recycled products a day. Over the past four years, the number is 91 million pounds of recycled materials.

We’ll also measure success in 2020 by the coverage in North America in terms of consolidation points, which are places where materials for recycling or reuse can be collected. That will require more distributor partners, and any flooring distributor wanting to participate should contact us.