As I was walking home last week from a lovely presentation at Stark carpet, I noticed a bunch of carpet rolled up and slated for the garbage pick-up outside my apartment building. I have to say I truly cringe when I see this on the streets or in the dumpsters of Manhattan, which is more often than I'd like to acknowledge. This is why Sustainable Interior Design is so important to me.
Does the old carpet go to Heaven? You may or may not realize that carpet doesn't die....it goes to landfill where it stays for thousands of years...
How much carpet goes to landfill?
It is estimated 5 billion pounds of carpet was sent to the landfill in 2003. The previous year, The Carpet America Recovery Effort was formed and the numbers have been decreasing every since. But there is still a lot of work to do to truly eliminate this global dilemma.
Carpet is hard to recycle.
A carpet is really a system, which is an assembly of parts. Each part has a role to play in the manufacture and performance of the carpet. A carpet is basically two components: the face fiber and backing system.
The face fiber is the most valuable part of the carpet for recycling. To recycle we must be able to identify and separate based on face fiber type. Each face fiber has completely different properties, which is why they must be separated. Face fiber typically makes up approximately ½ of the weight of the carpet but this can vary with construction.
Backing Systems: There are several types of backing systems used in the US today. The two most common are latex and polyvinylchloride (PVC). PVC backed carpets are easier to recycle today but are also more expensive and are used primarily in commercial settings. Latex backed carpets are what most people see in their homes. There are also additional layers in the backing system, which are typically polypropylene. Calcium carbonate is also employed as inert filler.
A carpet is a complex system with many components of different chemical composition. In order to recycle carpet it may be necessary to separate these components. Each step in the identification, separation, shredding and handling sequence adds another cost in the process of recycling old carpets.
So it does cost money. But so does sending carpet to landfill. Discarded carpet is becoming a multi-million dollar property liability. Landfill charges will likely double every 5 years or so now. For landfill costs alone, one company has calculated their cost to exceed $4 million over 10 years.
Currently, the average cost of carpet reclamation is between 5 cents to 25 cents per pound of old carpet to recycle (carpet typically weighs about 4-5 pounds per square yard). The cost will depend on the kind of carpet you have, how it was installed and your geographic location.
For information on how you can recycle your old carpet, from your home or office contact us or go to https://www.carpetrecovery.org and find your state or area. You will be guided to the closest reclamation center near you. New York City residents and companies may recycle their old carpet through Carpet Cycle.
2012 Goals for Carpet Recovery
The Carpet America Recovery Effort is dedicated to 40 percent landfill diversion by the year 2012, with a goal of recycling 20 to 25 percent of carpet waste. With all of us on board, this goal of Sustainable Interior Design is more than achievable.
If you've been thinking about bringing us on to design your sustainable home- now is the time! You can contact us here to schedule your consultation and we can get the process started. Thank you for following along with us, and we will see you next time!