Owner, supplier, manufacturer cooperate to recycle ceiling tiles

Business Owner Management



Home to 8,000 employees in four buildings in Washington, D.C., the World Bank replaces about 50,000 square feet of acoustical tile each year as part of renovations and staff relocations.

In past years, old tiles were thrown into a container and disposed of in a landfill. But the bank decided to recycle the tiles when it learned of Armstrong's ceiling recycling program from Centennial Contractors, which manages the bank's building maintenance.

The concept of the program is simple building owners ship old ceilings from renovation projects to an Armstrong ceiling plant as an alternative to landfill disposal. The manufacturer pays the cost of shipping the old tiles, which it uses as raw materials to make new acoustical ceilings.

The difficulty for the World Bank was finding a place to store the old tiles until they could be picked up for recycling. Companies that participate in the recycling program are required to have a minimum of 30,000 square feet of tiles.

In the case of the World Bank, ceiling distributor Capitol Building Supply helped develop a plan to transfer pallets of used tiles to its warehouse first, and then to the Armstrong plant once the required 30,000 square feet had been collected.

Instead of returning empty following a delivery to the bank, the distributor's trucks are now loaded with pallets of discarded ceiling tiles that are brought to the Capitol warehouse and stored. Once Capitol collects 30,000 square feet, it calls Armstrong.

Finding a way to recycle the tiles made sense, World Bank officials say.

"After all, we often advise governments on environmental issues," says Luis Descaire, director of the World Bank's general services department. "K we can't practice what we preach, how can we expect our borrowers to do so?"