I had a large carpeted kitchen once. I put the stuff in, and it was beautiful, but what a hassle to keep clean. I swore I'd never do it again. I now have tile and don't even want a throw rug in my prep area. I agree that if you can't have it removed/replaced, the plastic might be the solution.
Good point about fire hazard, that would never have occurred to me.
Would those robotic things run smoothly over the plastic runners?
I can resist anything, but temptation. Oscar Wilde