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Reaching ceilings

This year’s National Recycling Award for Materials Recycler of the Year (Small) was awarded to Armstrong Ceilings. Andrea Lockerbie looks at why

Armstrong World Industries introduced the world’s first ceiling recycling programme in the US in 1999. It launched the programme in the UK in 2003, starting with an End-Of-Life (EOL) recycling scheme and then adding an Off-Cut Recycling (OCR) scheme in 2010.

It recycled almost 300 tonnes in the UK in 2012 alone, on projects including the Olympic Media Centreand the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, saving contractors significant disposal costs.

The judges called the scheme “really innovative” and said Armstrong was “a great example of a company that has done some thinking ahead” with a programme that “offers both environmental and cost benefits”.

For Armstrong, the main cost - transport - is offset by the value of the material recovered. Its EOL recycling scheme for refurbishment and strip out projects involves used mineral wool tiles being 100% recycled in the mix at its state-of-the-art Team Valley production facility in Gateshead, and processed into new ceiling tiles.

Its OCR scheme involves storing off-cut tiles from new ceiling installations on site in specially supplied bags that are collected by the company to be recycled into new ceiling tiles. The percentage of recycled material in Armstrong’s new ceiling tiles currently stands at up to 82%, with anything over 50% helping to gain points towards SKA best practice measures.

Ceiling installers provide their Armstrong contact or Armstrong’s recycling helpline with the name of the project and location, estimated area of ceiling to be removed, identification or description of tiles, date ceiling tiles need to be removed by, and appropriate site contact details. If material is acceptable, transport is arranged with minimal environmental impact. A team at the Gateshead plant then checks and measures the tiles before reuse.

As well as specialist sub-contractors, Armstrong works with main contractors to support their tendering process to include ceiling recycling targets. Key to success is the involvement of demolition and strip-out contractors to raise awareness of ceiling recycling and the programme is promoted through various measures.  

In the UK, Armstrong offers the lowest BRE Ecopoint score for a 600x600mm mineral suspended ceiling system and with every tonne of mineral fibre ceiling tile that is recycled, the environmental impacts are further reduced.

In January 2013, Armstrong also pledged to recycle non-Armstrong ceiling tiles, enabling contractors to make further substantial savings on waste disposal costs. This means its EOL scheme now applies to any quantity of all wet felt, stone wool and glass wool ceiling tiles where they are replaced by Armstrong tiles, with full loads of the old tiles transported back free of charge to Armstrong’s factory where they are made into new tiles - a service unique to Armstrong.


Roy Gleiwitz, business development manager, Armstrong Ceiling

“It’s a fantastic accolade. It’s been something we have been working hard to strive to achieve for the last few years. We want to show the world and the rest of the business that we are innovative in what we do and our approach to recycling in the UK as well.”

Category Finalists:

  • Axe Skip Hire
  • OCS/Cabot Circus
  • St David’s Dewi Sant
  • White Moss Horticulture

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