If you put a thick layer of oatmeal underneath a red-velvet cake… does that make the cake healthy or a good choice for someone trying to lose weight?
Why have we bought into the idea that adding a sometimes very weighty layer of recycled material to the same yarn systems as broadloom, makes the product more sustainable than broadloom? It seems reasonable to expect that in most cases that the tile format represents a substantial increase in the amount of embodied energy per square yard of floor-covering. And some of the modular backings are quite heavy, also increasing the impact on transportation energy and costs.
Of course, one of the old arguments was that the ability to swap-out individually stained or damaged tiles, makes the installed system more sustainable. However, we’ve all been in enough offices now to observe that these stained and damaged tiles are rarely swapped out (even when attic stock is present). In fact, many of us have observed this in their own firms.
Carpet tile has some very interesting and versatile aesthetic attributes; and this brief commentary isn’t anti-modular. It’s just an interesting question to consider if the design community has devalued the broadloom options based on sustainability concerns that might not be wholly justified.