In 2018, 175,252 tonnes of worn-out or unused carpet waste was diverted from landfill sites, according to Carpet Recycling UK. This is a modest increase in the amount of carpet that is recycled, reused or recovered for energy in the UK.
Carpets Environmental Effects
Although completely biodegradable carpets are available, they are incredibly expensive and difficult to source in the UK.
Most carpets are synthetic. Composed of Polyester, Nylon or even Acrylic, these petroleum-based plastic materials are based on crude oil and are therefore not sustainable. Additionally, these synthetic fibres are woven onto carpet backing that is usually made from polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Latex or 4-phenylcylclohexene. These are also crude oil-based products. All of this oil is therefore incredibly hard to manage as recycling it requires careful management of the emissions that are created in the recycling process.
However, many of these plastic-based carpets are treated with dyes and chemicals that are designed to repel stains, mildew and reduce the risk of fires. Although this increases the lifetime of your carpet which, in some cases, can be more environmentally friendly, when trying to recycle a carpet, they can cause problems because added chemical emissions.
However, recycling is required for these plastic-based carpets because they last an incredibly long time in a landfill.
How is UK Carpet being Recycled?
Last year 175,252 tonnes of waste carpet was diverted from its final landfill destination to a multitude of recycling facilities up and down the UK. These figures show a diversion rate of 44%. Although this is only an increase of 2% from the previous year, this increased recycling of 7,252 tonnes of carpet will go a long way towards improving the environment in the UK and beyond.
Of the 175,252 tonnes of carpet recycled, 113,914 tonnes were used in energy recovery to utilise the materials again. This figure is 65% of the total UK carpet recycling.
Read more to find out how Carpet is being responsibly recycled
Commenting on their 2018 achievements, CRUK Scheme Manager Adnan Zeb-Khan said: “Our Core Funder manufacturing and distribution membership continues to grow, providing exceptional support to CRUK as well as to their customers. These Core Funders are industry leaders in developing voluntary producer responsibility for carpets throughout their lifecycle.”
CRUK Scheme Manager Adnan Zeb-Khan – “Our Core Funder manufacturing and distribution membership continues to grow, providing exceptional support to CRUK as well as to their customers. These Core Funders are industry leaders in developing voluntary producer responsibility for carpets throughout their lifecycle.”
CRUK’s core funders are Cormar Carpets, Lifestyle Floors/Headlam, Brinton Carpets, DESSO, ege, Milliken and Balsan.
Adnan noted that CRUK’s retailer and flooring contractor membership has increased as more companies recognise cost savings and sustainability impacts for their businesses. “They appreciate the help from our Core Funders to improve their results, in many cases saving thousands of pounds per year,” he continued.
Consistent awareness and interest in recycling carpet waste resulted in around 620 wide-ranging enquiries received by the CRUK team in 2018. CRUK’s social media presence continues to attract enquiries and generate leads from retailers, contractors and recyclers.
Last year’s fifth annual Carpet Recycling Awards celebrated innovations developed by specialist carpet reuse and recycling members across a wide range of categories, including recovering value from carpet manufacturers’ and distributors’ waste to create new flooring products.
Commenting on their 2018 achievements, Adnan added: “We are making progress towards our target of 60% landfill diversion by 2020 and are proud of what we have achieved in our first decade. With strong commitment and support from all our Core Funders, members and the supply chain, we will continue to work tirelessly towards our sustainability goals.”
Looking ahead, Carpet Recycling UK will focus on increasing support from membership across the flooring sector as the 2020 target approaches – equivalent to 240,000 tonnes landfill diversion of carpet waste. The organisation will also promote increased recycled content in textile flooring and ‘circular production’ practices.
Author: Darrel Moore