While recycled plastics are a viable alternative for floor pads, some manufacturers are turning to renewable resources in response to the global warming effects of burning fossil fuels to produce polyester, a resin commonly used in floor pads.

Treleoni, which was recently acquired by ACS, uses biobased material in the manufacture of its floor pad line.

“We use 100 percent plant-based fiber material from sugar cane as well as corn,” says Richard Mazzoli, president of Treleoni, Manning, South Carolina. “By using plant-based materials you’re reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that occur in the manufacture of the base substrate material.”

Although pads can be made of organic material, the resins that bind the fibers are often made from petrochemicals. Some pads, such as those used for cleaning and stripping, use more resin on the fibers, while polishing and burnishing pads use less.

“When considering whether a floor pad is environmentally preferable you also have to look at the adhesive glue that holds the pad together,” says Pedersen.

Using water-based latex in the manufacturing process to avoid phenolic-based resins is a sustainable alternative.

Treleoni does not make any biodegradability claims about its floor pads; however, the company maintains that biobased products in a landfill are “already better” than oil-based products due to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and nonrenewable energy usage.

Instead of looking at what happens to the product once disposed of in a landfill, the company focuses on the sustainability benefits of lower greenhouse gas emissions during the manufacturing process. But, just as biodegradability in and of itself is not a significant environmental benefit, the sustainability benefits of biobased materials should take into account the entire lifecycle of the product from its inception.

“You have to look at where your bio-plastics come from and how their raw materials are grown,” says Pedersen. “Are you using more fossil fuel to grow the crops and turn them into plastic than it would take petroleum to make the plastic directly? Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no. So we look at all the environmental costs that go into creating those bio-plastics compared to petroleum.”

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