TURNING CARPET INTO NEW PRODUCTS
The carpet industry is concerned about the amount of old carpet that ends up in landfills each year. Carpet manufacturers are voluntarily addressing this problem by recycling old carpet materials back into carpet production, recycling old carpet into alternative products such as building materials and auto parts, refurbishing old carpet into new carpet tiles, and even reclaiming old carpet so it can be reused or recycled.
Industrial waste: Although more efficient manufacturing is reducing excess carpet waste, such as selvedges, trimmings and shearings, the industry has found creative uses for carpet by-products, such as carpet trim and yarn scraps, to avoid the use of local landfills. The following are some examples of how CRI members are recycling their carpet products:
- Fiber and yarn that cannot be reused in manufacturing are recovered for use in other products.
- Excess carpet is cut into rugs and mats and sold for other uses.
- Waste carpet trimmings, backing and yarn often are sold to recycling plants to be processed into such items as carpet cushion, furniture battings and cushions, reinforcing filler for concrete, fence posts, road underlayment, plastic lumber and automotive parts.
- Polyethylene packaging, used to wrap carpet yarn spools and other raw materials, is recycled into plastic pellets to be sold to extruders of film, plastic wrap or plastic trash bags, or it is used in molded items.
- Other materials used in the manufacturing process, such as cardboard, paper, aluminum, wooden pallets, yarn cones, roll cores, liquid containers, raw material packaging and scrap metal, are either reused or recycled.
Postconsumer carpet: Because collecting, sorting and transporting used carpet is such a huge challenge, the tasks are being addressed by carpet and fiber companies and individual entrepreneurs. Several companies have collection sites in place and are developing the means to separate carpet components and recover polymers. The industry is working toward recycling fiber back into fiber and turning Nylon 6 into new fiber. Some companies are refurbishing used carpet modules. Currently, billions of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic beverage bottles each year are used to make polyester carpet fibers.
To address the challenges of postconsumer recycling, CRI has a committee of member representatives to rally industry expertise and resources. The committee's work includes developing an identification system of carpet materials to make the sorting of fiber and backing compounds much easier and more efficient in the future. Many of the CRI member companies as well as many entrepreneurs around the country are currently using this identification system, called the Carpet Component Identification Code (CCIC).