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Can Laminate Flooring Be Recycled?


Laminate flooring is a popular choice among homeowners and renovators. Not only does it come in a range of high-quality finishes, but it’s also a fraction of the price compared to solid hardwood, tiled or stone flooring.

With sustainability being such a hot topic these days, it’s no surprise that people are looking for more sustainable choices for their DIY and home renovation projects.

If you’re planning on upgrading any old laminate flooring in your home, office or workplace, you might be wondering if you’re able to dispose of it in an eco-friendly fashion.

In this article, we look at a selection of ways to dispose of laminate flooring, with a focus on how to give it a new lease of life through recycling, upcycling or repurposing. We’ll also cover how you shouldn’t dispose of it and how you can get rid of it when recycling isn’t an option.

From cutting up laminate flooring and binding the pieces to form new sheet material to separating the layers ahead of recycling, there have been several recent developments in recycling laminate flooring. It’s a difficult process, however, and not all recycling centers can recycle laminate flooring.

We’ve all heard of recycling cans and cardboard, but how can we bring sustainable choices into our home improvement projects? Read on to find out how you can recycle unwanted laminate flooring to avoid it going straight to the landfill.

Can Laminate Flooring Be Recycled?

Since its creation in Sweden in the late 1970s, laminate flooring has grown in popularity, and it is now one of the most popular flooring choices available today.

Laminate flooring is made from four layers of material, as shown below, with these fused using heat and pressure.

The well-engineered production process and the combination of materials make laminate flooring a premium-quality product that is hard-wearing and can last between 15 and 25 years.

an image showing the various layers that make up a laminate floor panel
The Layers of a Typical Laminate Floor
  1. A transparent protective layer on the top.
  2. A design layer featuring the laminate floor’s pattern.
  3. A fiberboard core which gives the floor its rigidity.
  4. A backing layer at the bottom which provides moisture resistance to the underside of the board.

One of the main issues with laminate flooring is sustainability, not in terms of its manufacture (you’ll see in the next section that it’s a relatively eco-friendly process), but in terms of its disposal.

The chances are if you check your local waste disposal regulations, you’ll find laminate flooring categorized as general household garbage. Unfortunately, that usually means that it’ll end up in the landfill.

The main issue here is the various layers that make up a laminate floor, and these are particularly difficult to separate as part of the recycling process. So, even though a large portion of a laminate floor is the fiberboard core which consists primarily of easily recycled wood fibers, the addition of an aluminum oxide top layer, the melamine-resin-containing design layer, and the melamine backing layer prevents the entirety of the laminate floor from being recycled at once.

Of course, the fact that melamine by itself is so difficult to recycle doesn’t help.

Having said that, while recycling laminate flooring is difficult, it isn’t impossible. In recent years, various processes have been developed, including one by Välinge that involves cutting up laminate floor panels into smaller sizes, mixing the cut pieces with a binder, and then pressing these under heat into new sheet material.

The recycled material produced from this process could then form the core of new laminate flooring and be recycled multiple times over, making them highly sustainable.

Other processes developed by manufacturers and recycling companies claim to separate the various parts of a laminate floor. An alleged 85% of the original floor components are recyclable due to being properly separated and recycled in isolation.

If you are looking to recycle some old laminate flooring, we’d advise checking with your local recycling center as to whether they have the capabilities to process it for recycling. Alternatively, some landfill sites will be able to send it off to the right place for recycling, or you could even speak to a specialist flooring store, and they’ll be able to advise how you would go about recycling it.


Is Laminate Flooring Eco Friendly?

While it might be difficult to source a recycling center capable of sustainably disposing of laminate flooring, thankfully, it is relatively easy to find laminate flooring manufacturers who emphasize creating their products in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner.

Here are some of the ways that laminate flooring could be considered eco-friendly:

  • It’s Primarily Made From Recycled Materials
  • Laminate flooring receives the majority of its eco-friendly credentials during the manufacturing process.

    For example, laminate flooring consists of around 90% wood, but unlike hardwood flooring, which relies on deforestation, laminate flooring uses recycled wood or wood by-products from other industries. Pergo, for example, a major laminate manufacturer, gets 100% of its wood input from these sustainable sources.

    Manufacturers also print the laminate’s design layer instead of using natural wood, which further reduces the resource depletion needed to manufacture the floor.

    Many laminate manufacturers also use eco-friendly packaging, with cartons made from recycled cardboard, for example.

  • It Uses Eco-Friendly Manufacturing Processes
  • Many manufacturers use modern manufacturing facilities and processes designed with sustainability in mind.

    For example, KRONOTEX states the following:

    KRONOTEX regularly invests in state-of-the-art production systems that are designed to recycle and reuse heat and scrap. Everything is produced without pesticides, chlororganic compounds, plasticisers or toxic heavy metals.

    KRONOTEX

    Pergo is another manufacturer that combines renewable energy resources with greater energy efficiency to boost the sustainability of its manufacturing processes.

    For example, 97% of Pergo’s water supply comes from recycled water, while an internal biomass plant lets them manufacture laminate flooring via the use of environmentally-friendly green energy.

  • It Avoids the Use of Harmful Chemicals
  • The quote above from KRONOTEX highlights that they manufacture their laminate floors without using pesticides, chlororganic compounds (those combined with chlorine), plasticizers, or toxic heavy metals.

    Another area where laminate flooring bypasses the need for any harmful chemicals is during the installation process. The ability to install laminate as a floating floor means that no harmful glues or adhesives are needed.

While we can say that, in general, laminate flooring is relatively eco-friendly, the above examples are a generalization, and things are likely to vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

If sustainability is high on your list of priorities, we’d recommend browsing the manufacturer’s website and sales brochure for whatever type of floor you’re interested in to ensure the manufacturer’s values align with yours.


How Do You Dispose of Laminate Flooring?

Do you have old laminate flooring lying around that you need to get rid of? Here are a few options for how to dispose of it properly and responsibly:

Recycling Laminate Flooring

From cutting up laminate flooring and binding the pieces to form new sheet material to separating the layers ahead of recycling, there have been several developments in recycling laminate flooring in recent years.

Unfortunately, however, it would appear that these processes are still in their infancy and aren’t available everywhere.

Because of this, you shouldn’t be surprised if your local authority classifies old laminate flooring as regular household garbage. Simply put, many won’t have access to the relevant recycling facilities or technology to dispose of it sustainably, or they’ll consider it too cost-prohibitive an option.

As mentioned above, if you are looking to recycle old laminate flooring, we’d advise checking first with your local recycling center to see whether they have the capabilities to process it for recycling.

Alternatively, some landfill sites will be able to send it off to the right place for recycling, or you could even speak to a specialist flooring store, and they’ll be able to advise how you would go about recycling it.

Upcycling Laminate Flooring

Whether you’d like to take up a new upcycling hobby, or you want to make more sustainable choices when it comes to household waste, upcycling laminate flooring can be a great way to repurpose your old laminate flooring that would otherwise have headed straight for the landfill.

Whilst it can last between 15 to 15 years, there inevitably comes a time when your laminate floor is too beat up to continue functioning as a floor. Alternatively, it could be a style that you’ve grown bored of, and so repurposing it into a host of decorative or practical items is one way to breathe new life into an old laminate floor.

A quick browse on Pinterest will show you that you can easily refashion old laminate boards into a multitude of things, including:

  • Drinks tray
  • A new tabletop
  • Planter box for flowers
  • Bed headboard
  • Wall decor and plaques
  • Shelving
  • Cupboard doors
  • Coasters
  • Picture frames
  • DIY bowling alley

So, if you have any leftover scraps of laminate flooring from a recent renovation project, or you’re looking to replace your laminate flooring, and you’re going to be left to dispose of the old floor, why not get creative and upcycle it into one of the above items?

By using your imagination and DIY skills, you’ll not only have a fun project on your hands, but you’ll also be making a more sustainable choice by reducing the amount of waste you send to the landfill.

Waste Disposal of Laminate Flooring

In some areas, you’ll be able to dispose of unwanted laminate flooring by putting it in your regular bin for the waste disposal services to pick on. Still, you will need to check with your local authorities first as this isn’t the case everywhere.

An alternate option would be to contact your local council and arrange for a bulky waste collection to pick up your unwanted laminate flooring, though you will more than likely have to pay for this service.

Alternatively, load up your car boot and take it to a local tip or landfill site; be sure to contact them beforehand to check they will accept your old laminate floorboards, though.

Some landfill sites will be able to recycle laminate flooring, which has a better impact on the environment. So, before you dump it in the landfill pile, be sure to check with the staff if it’s possible to recycle it instead.


Related Questions

Can Laminate Flooring Be Removed and Reused?

The snap and click together fastening system of laminate flooring not only makes it super easy to install, but it also means it’s just as simple to take apart when you’re ready to replace it provided no glue has been used during the original installation.

To take up laminate flooring, all you’ll need is a rubber mallet, a pry bar and a steady set of hands.

Because laminate flooring boards are held in place by interlocking tongues and grooves, as shown below, you can use a pry bar to loosen and gently remove the planks. Be careful not to apply too much pressure as you work, as this could damage the boards and deem them unusable.

can laminate flooring be recycled article image - image showing the tongue and groove edges of laminate flooring

Once you’ve removed all the laminate flooring carefully, it can be transported to its new fitment location and reinstalled.

One thing to note when reusing laminate flooring, you will need to wait 2 to 3 days for it to acclimate to the new room before installation, as this gives the materials a chance to adjust to any changes in temperature and humidity in the new room.

For more information on reusing laminate flooring, check out our following article: Can laminate flooring be reused?

Is Burning Laminate Flooring Toxic?

Despite being made up of around 90% wood, you should never burn your old laminate flooring in an attempt to dispose of it.

The bonding adhesive top layer of laminate flooring boards contains an aluminum oxide coating which produces a harmful gas when burnt. It is best to protect yourself and those around you by avoiding incinerating or burning laminate flooring.


Final Remarks

In conclusion, if you are looking to dispose of old laminate flooring and aren’t sure how to go about it, we’d highly recommend looking into getting it recycled.

From cutting up laminate flooring and binding the pieces to form new sheet material to separating the layers ahead of recycling, there have been several recent developments in recycling laminate flooring.

The recycled material produced from these processes could then form the core of new laminate flooring or be used elsewhere, which is significantly better for the environment than sending the entirety of the waste to a landfill.

It is best to do research beforehand, as not all recycling centres can accept old laminate flooring. You could also contact a local laminate flooring manufacturer or supplier, as they will more than likely be able to tell you how you go about it.


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