Thursday, October 8th, 2009
We looked at our old carpet and padding – rolled and bound in piles in the garage. It was worn out, but I couldn’t stand to just let it go – to a landfill, that is.
I looked up reclamation centers through the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), an organization that works to reduce landfill disposal of carpet and increase the recycling and reuse of post-consumer carpet. A nearby center accepted carpet padding, but not the carpet part. Carpet is recyclable, but we learned, among other things, that there is no real infrastructure in place. We couldn’t find an option for the carpet near us so we put it curbside and off my husband went with a carload of padding.
At the center, the padding was loaded into a forklift basket, driven to a scale and weighed. After one weight ticket, presenting his driver’s license, signing and dating one receipt, two offices and one thumb print later (“State law,” it was explained, as he was given a moist towelette to clear the ink from his thumb) — he finally got his receipt. Scanning its bar code at their ATM, he received: $3.60. It seems recyclers charge to accept carpet but pay for padding.
Most carpet is either nylon 6,6 or nylon 6, but it may be polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene, wool or a blend. Padding can be foam (such as flexible polyurethane foam or FPF), rubber, fiber or other materials.”
We took some comfort in doing what we could, as well as in what has been done collectively in recent years. Since 2002, more than 1.3 billion pounds of post-consumer carpet has been diverted from landfills; 1.2 billion pounds of this was recycled into composite lumber, roofing, new carpet, automotive parts and other products. While that’s less than five percent of carpet discards per year, industry is working on improvements. Carpet recycling can also contribute to LEEDcertification. I also found some interesting news in CARE’s last Annual Report, including:
- For every pound of waste Beaulieu Group generates in manufacturing, they consume two pounds of post-consumer waste.
- Interface won an award for a program allowing reclamation of all residential and commercial carpet types.
- Mannington Mills has tiles with 100% post-production yarn.
- Landfills haven’t seen any waste from carpet manufacturing at Milliken since 1999.
- Mohawk has a facility that even recycles the calcium carbonate used in the backings.
By the time we need these services again, more may be available. But we both agreed the process was well worth keeping the padding out of a landfill.