According to the Carpet America Recover Effort or CARE, approximately 5 billion pounds of carpet is disposed of in landfills each year. To avoid this, it is challenging but possible to recycle carpet and reduce the number of landfills required.
Why is it difficult to recycle carpet?
Carpet consists of a mixture of different parts which need to be separated before the carpet is able to be recycled. The primary part of the carpet is known as the face fiber, which is either a natural textile or is man-made. It is the most valuable recycling carpet component and is typically made of nylon, polyester, Olefin, or wool. Carpet is also composed of a backing which is made of an additional material, which is usually made of latex in residential carpets whereas commercial carpets use PVC or polyvinylchloride.
It is very expensive to recycle sustainable carpet tiles because they need to be separated, identified and reprocessed which is a costly process. Also, due to the fact that the materials to make new carpet are so inexpensive, there is unfortunately little incentive to recycle.
CARE, which was established in 2001, was formed in order to address the problem of carpet waste. The purpose of CARE is to recycle approximately 40% of discarded carpet.
Where should you bring the old carpet?
The process of producing recycled carpet tiles is quite difficult since there is, of yet, very little infrastructure for the procedure. However, there are some locations in the United States where this is done. The majority of recyclers charge between 5 and 25 cents per pound. For a list of available locations to recycle carpet in the United States, visit http://www.carpetrecovery.org/waste.php. Another option is to donate your recycled carpet tiles to a charity or to a recycling center which collects building materials.
If the carpet is in “like new” condition, the carpet can be donated to Habitat for Humanity as well as some other organizations such as Deseret Industries.
Can carpet pads also be recycled?
Carpet pads are actually much easier to recycle as they are made out of a single material. Most recyclers will pay for rebond foam pads which are clean and are in good condition.
If the carpet that is intended to be recycled is in good condition, you can perhaps wash, resize, and reseam the piece so that it can be used once again in your home. This use of recycled carpet tiles is not inexpensive but it is most definitely less so than buying new carpet. In addition to saving money, the recycling will also prevent the carpet from ending up in a landfill.
You can also recycle carpet by cutting it up and using it in a pickup truck to protect the bed from getting scratched or it can also be used in the same capacity in the trunk of a car. These recycled carpet tiles can also be used in a tent while camping to prevent dirt from getting tracked into the tent.
Sustainable carpet tiles can also be used to line the bottom of pet carriers or to build scratching posts for your cat. It can also be cut up and used as floor mats for the car, the laundry room, or the kitchen.
These pieces can also be used in the garden as mulch which is placed beneath the beds of vegetables and flowers. It is recommended as it is able to absorb water but does not let weeds grow through the material. The carpet can be placed under a thin layer of mulch so that it prevent weeds but does not disrupt the aesthetic appeal of the garden. Just make sure that you have cut a whole for the plant and its roots.
By recycling carpet, you can both protect the environment by limiting the need for landfills as well as save money by using your old carpet for floor mats and in other areas of the house.