Each year, 5 billion pounds of carpet are sent to landfills in the U.S. This means that over 3.5% of waste disposed in the U.S. is carpet.
In 2002, only 3.8% of carpet discards were recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. To solve this problem, carpet and fiber manufacturers signed the National Carpet Recycling Agreement in 2002. These manufacturers resolved to increase carpet recycling to 20-25% and carpet reuse to 3-5% by 2012.
As a result of this agreement, the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) was established to develop market-based solutions for post-consumer carpet recycling and reuse.
CARE has a member listing of carpet recyclers and other organizations who are committed to carpet waste diversion.
Carpet Cycle: Recycling for Post-Consumer Carpets
One of CARE’s members is CarpetCycle LLC, a carpet padding and carpet recycling company based in Dover, New Jersey. The company has diverted over 20 million pounds of carpet from landfills since its inception in 1999.
CarpetCycle collects carpet in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. CarpetCycle Canada, whom you may have seen at this year’s Greenbuild conference, is owned by the same company and collects carpet recycling in Canada.
CarpetCycle offers services for residential and commercial projects, including:
1) Rip Up Contracting: CarpetCycle will send staff to the site to rip up and collect the used carpeting.
2) Pick Up Services: CarpetCycle will pick up carpeting that has already been ripped up.
3) Drop Off Services: Residential customers can drop off their carpets for recycling at the CarpetCycle headquarters in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
4) Ceiling Tile Services: Though CarpetCycle began as a carpet recycling company, it now offers a ceiling tile recycling program. CarpetCycle can tear down and/or pick up old ceiling materials, which can be reused to manufacture new acoustical ceilings.
CarpetCycle claims that it is not only beneficial to the environment to recycle carpet, but it is 35-60% cheaper than other collection and disposal services.
On average, the trailer fee for Carpet Cycle’s pickup service is $50/ton of carpet. This includes everything from the trailer rental to transportation to processing costs. CarpetCycle claims that this is cheaper than standard transportation and disposal costs, which are typically about $80-120 per ton.
For certain LEED rating systems, LEED projects can earn points toward certification if they recycle old carpeting.
For new construction projects, there is no used carpet to recycle. Therefore, this only applies to LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance (EB:O&M) and LEED for Commercial Interiors (CI).
For LEED EB:O&M, the project can earn Materials and Resources, Credit 9: Solid Waste Management – Facility Alterations and Additions. To earn this 1 point, at least 70% of waste (by volume) from the facility’s renovations must be diverted. This includes recycling and reusing materials, including carpets.
For LEED CI, the project can earn up to 2 points for Materials and Resources, Credit 2: Construction Waste Management. To earn these points, a certain percentage of construction and demolition debris should be recycled and/or salvaged (including carpets). To earn 1 point, 50% must be recycled and to earn 2 points, 75% must be recycled.