Tandy Coleman, Polyflor CEO.

Tandy Coleman, Polyflor CEO.

By Rianté Naidoo

Tandy Coleman is on a mission – to make sure recycling becomes the only way vinyl flooring is disposed of.

As the CEO of vinyl flooring company Polyflor, Coleman was concerned about the amount of offcuts her company was throwing away, and with the aim to embrace a circular economy, she decided to take a leap and start something new.

Her company started a pilot recycling project in Johannesburg, which is South Africa’s first vinyl flooring take back scheme. She says this project was aimed at helping the South African Vinyl Association (SAVA) achieve its target of recycling 15,000 tonnes of vinyl waste a year.

Launching the recycling programme

“I thought about how on earth we were going to recycle vinyl flooring,” Coleman told delegates at the Vinyl SA Conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday. “And I thought – if you want to do something, don’t reinvent the wheel – find the experts and ask them for advice.”

Coleman approached Recoflor in the United Kingdom (UK) after their vinyl flooring recycling initiative took off so well, it earned them a Green Apple Gold Award for Environmental Practice.

Considering Recoflor only began operations in 2010, its initiative grew exponentially with the company having successfully opened 63 drop off sites throughout the UK to date.

In 2012 it had collected 450 tonnes of offcuts, and by 2016, they were collecting up to 3,208 tonnes of material a year. This is equivalent to 150 football fields and saved 2,566 tonnes of carbon dioxide waste from being emitted into the atmosphere.

And so Coleman thought: “If they (Recoflor) can get it right on their little island, surely we can get it right.”

She spearheaded the recycling project which has seen more than four tonnes of vinyl flooring offcuts already recycled.

Currently Polyflor is assisted with collecting offcuts from four contractor companies and all the waste is recycled by Potch Plastic.

“This must become a total industry initiative,” Coleman says. “But we need the commitment of more contractors and recyclers.”

She said there is a need to educate architects and building contractors in order to make recycling compulsory.

She added that the aim of the project will be to increase the company’s recycling rate by 100% % by the end of 2017.

“Everyone needs to take account,” she says, “and if everyone takes a little bit of responsibility in their industry to do recycling, we will all make a difference.”