The Problem: Volume, Waste, Emissions
Carpet is bulky, heavy, difficult to handle, and made from non-renewable resources. It is recyclable but it is more often disposed, taking up valuable landfill space and wasting material resources. Recycling carpet significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to other end of life management practices.
Volumes: According to a study conducted by Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), an estimated 3.5 million pounds of carpet were discarded in the U.S. in 2012, and only about 10% was diverted from landfills. CARE estimates a carpet per capita rate of 14 pounds of carpet per person per year in Illinois. Illinois' population is at 12.8 million, so an estimated 180 million pounds of carpet is discarded in Illinois landfills annually.
Wasted Resources: Carpet, made from valuable petroleum-based resources, is wasted when landfilled or incinerated. Carpet can be recycled into a wide range of products, including carpet fiber and backing, engineered products such as car and electronics parts, and erosion control products. Carpet recycling is a job creator - for example, enactment of the State of California’s new carpet stewardship bill added an initial 50 jobs to the state’s economy and increased the number of facilities recycling carpet from four to 18.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The majority of carpet is made from petroleum products and requires a great deal of energy to produce. A study conducted in Seattle found that recycling carpet produced far less green house gases than other end-of-life choices, reducing emissions by 8,300 pounds of eCO2 per ton of carpet recycled. Each ton of used carpet recycled could be shipped more than 40,000 miles by truck (more than ten times the distance across the U.S.) before recycling would lose its position as the best management option for discarded carpet.
Product Stewardship Solutions
Product Stewardship solutions include activities that carpet manufacturers as well as retailers, governments and consumers can take to minimize the environmental impact of carpet throughout all stages of the products' life cycle, including end of life management.