The greening of the matting category has been accelerating for 10 years, in tandem with the growing importance of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. As more facilities worry about earning LEED credits, manufacturers are responding with products that fit the bill.

“Matting manufacturers revamped materials and production processes to launch new products as the market was becoming steadfast in its expectations of green,” says JoAnn Durette, vice president of marketing at Mats Inc., in Stoughton, Massachusetts.

Technology has been an important factor in the adoption rate of green matting systems. In the beginning, manufacturers rushed to incorporate recycled materials into their products, but some of that “enthusiastic experimentation” resulted in inferior quality and performance, says Durette.

Manufacturers soon learned that while facility managers want green products, they aren’t willing to sacrifice appearance or functionality. And they definitely aren’t willing to pay twice the price.

“If they can find a green alternative to a traditional product, and things such as cost and performance are comparable, they will select the green product,” says Strizzi.

Recent advances in technology are now allowing manufacturers to meet customer demands. Old car tires and reclaimed plastic bottles are finding new lives as wiper and scraper mats. Most commonly, tires are turned into rubber backings and bottles are used to make PET “fabric.” Another popular material for green mats is coconut husk fibers, which create a deep-pile surface. These eco mats look and perform on par with traditional products and cost the same, or up to as little as 15 percent more.

Although seemingly minor, these changes in materials can have a profound environmental impact. By adding recycled content to its products, one manufacturer has been able to keep 57,000 car tires and 18 million drink bottles out of landfills. Without recycling, it would take generations for those materials to break down.

“The biggest advantage is the positive effect on the environment,” says Miller. “Recycling reduces the amount of energy and natural resources needed to create expensive virgin materials.”

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