Carpet – Biobased & Recycled Content

Question: Isn't the only requirement to purchase polyester carpet with recycled content?

Response: Yes. Only polyester carpet has been designated to contain 25% recycled PET, and Federal sites only purchase high grade commercial nylon carpet.However, because high grade commercial (6,6) nylon carpet is readily available with at least 25% recycled content at prices comparable to carpet without recycled content, we recommend specifying recycled content.It does not matter where the recycled content is (in the facing, in the backing, in the interim layer). Wherever it is, it counts.

And as of May 14, 2009, we have a requirement to give preference to carpet with a minimum of 7% biobased content regardless of whether polyester or nylon.

Seeking carpet that complies with recognized standards that address multiple healthy and environmental attributes is recommended. Examples of such standards are:

Side Note: Ensure you know all the ingredients in the carpet. Try to avoid any materials that contain hazardous offgassing ingredients, typically found in the backing.Vinyl, in particular, should be avoided.

Concrete – Recycled

Question: Does the fly ash in recycled concrete leach out and have the potential to leach into the surrounding ground and eventually groundwater?

Response: No. At the July 27, 2006 teleconference, we learned from Bill Aljoe (National Energy Technology Lab - NETL)

  • Fly ash has been used in concrete for over 50 years with no leaching problems and no environmental contamination from any constituent even at disposal sites.
  • NETL has studied fly ash intensely and determined it is very difficult to leach contaminants from fly ash.
  • Fly ash enhances the strength of concrete.
  • Typical amount of fly ash should be 10-30% except in freezing temperatures since fly ash slows curing of concrete.

Concrete – Recycled in Bags

Question: Is concrete with fly ash, blast furnace slag, cenospheres or silica fume available in bags?

Response: Yes. The problem is lack of labeling denoting the bag contains recycled content. Two brands that contain recycled content are Basalite and Quikrete. If the cement was produced in an area with fly ash, blast furnace slag, cenospheres, or silica available, the Basalite and Quikrete bags contain the recycled ingredient. If produced in an area where the specified recycled material is not available, the bags do not contain it.

Basalite production codes that denote fly ash and/or blast furnace slag is in the product beginning either with 1406 or 1409. The production codes are printed on the bag in front of the date.

To date the Quikrete production areas we know are producing bags of cement with fly ash are Fremont, CA; Charlotte, NC; Nashville, TN; Pounding Mill, VA; and Martinsville, VA. In addition, Quikrete has a "Green Concrete Mix" which contains 50% or more recycled aggregate such as recycled concrete.

We have asked both Basalite and Quikrete to label their bags denoting whether they contain the specified recycled content.

Paint - Remanufactured

Question: Isn't it more important to purchase a healthy paint without volatile organic compounds than a remanufactured paint?

Response: Yes, but those two criteria are not mutually exclusive. Remanufactured paint is available with low-to-no volatile organic compounds. The manufacturers achieve this by only accepting paint from professional sources and in their original cans. One brand of remanufactured paint that has been tested at DOE sites is made by Visions Recycling, Inc., www.visionsrecycling.com. The findings were:

  • Initially compared by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with other environmental brands and found to be the only one evaluated with good coverage in a swatch test
  • Tested by Argonne National Laboratory painting an entire room. Test results showed ease of application and good coverage with one coat.
  • Costs roughly one-third the price of non-recycled paint
  • On GSA schedule, contract #GS-06F-0012M
  • Available through local Sherwin Williams store once initial arrangements made
  • Will mix to match, using current color card (ICI, Sherwin Williams, etc.) when customer gives color number off that card
  • Has a quality control process
  • For preferred (major quantity) customers will batch test for contaminants if requested
  • Third party certified testing methods show concentrations of metal contaminant equal to or lower than at least two national high end commercial brands and none exceed the metals listed in Title 22.
  • For example, no more than 17 grams/liter of volatile organize compounds (EPA standard is no more than 250 grams/liter)

See also the Green Seal GS-43 standard for remanufactured paint

For DOE Sustainable Acquisition questions, contact Shab Fardanesh (202-586-7011).

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