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Ceiling tile recycling programs have been offered for more than a decade. Manufacturers that offer these programs will generally take back ceiling tiles from any company, as long as the tiles do not contain hazardous materials like asbestos or lead.
Many manufacturers incorporate this recycled content into their products. Hunter Douglas, for example, offers metal ceilings with 70 to 95 percent recycled content.
Armstrong's ceiling-to-ceiling tiles contain 15 to 18 percent post-consumer content. Armstrong's tiles vary in percentage of recycled content overall, with its greenest tile at 79 percent.
What's more, companies that recycle do not have to pay for dumpsters or landfill tipping fees. And depending on the number of tiles involved, the manufacturer may cover shipping. As a result, it doesn't cost more to recycle, says Anita Snader, environmental sustainability manager, Armstrong World Industries. "Our investment is in freight and processing," says Snader.
Manufacturers also offer other help with logistics. For example, if less than a full truckload of ceiling tiles is involved, USG Corporation will help businesses arrange to get those ceiling tiles removed through a network of local consolidators that the company has set up, says Al Zucco, senior director for sustainability.
"We want to increase post-consumer content in our products," Zucco says. "Ninety percent of our tiles are recyclable, and we have an HRC (high recyclable content) program." Zucco says that large number of the company's tiles have more than 50 percent of their content made from recyclable material.
Armstrong coordinates runs so if trucks are going to a certain location to deliver tile, they will, whenever possible, bring back a load of old tile for recycling. Armstrong also coordinates with local waste-management companies to bring the necessary equipment to the site of renovation so that the tiles can be hauled away.
From the building management side, it's up to the building owner, architect, or general contractor to develop a waste-management plan at the inception of a renovation, Snader explains, and register a project as early as possible.