Dear Recycling Bins: Our Weekly Recycling Advice Column
Welcome to our weekly advice column where we look at all things recycling and give you the answers you’re desperately seeking.
Dear Recycling Bins,
I’m a property developer and as you can imagine, I have to completely gut most of the properties I buy. I try to be as responsible as possible when it comes to clearing my properties, but what I get rid of more than any other item are carpets.
My question is, what do I do with them, other than take them to the tip? Most of them are not in the best condition, but occasionally I come across some that could be reused and it pains me to throw them away.
A wannabe green landlord
Carpet recycling is on the rise in the UK, and despite your fears, many carpets do now get rescued from landfill.
Organisations like Carpet Recycling UK have been working hard to promote the recycling and reuse of carpets and to reduce the amount being sent to landfill. They’ve done a great job so far. They’ve diverted a huge 709,000 tonnes of carpet from landfill. Over the last decade, the total amount of carpet diverted from landfill has risen to 35%, up from a paltry 2%. The organisation has also managed to recover 35% more energy from carpet recycling in the past four years.
The fact that more carpets are now being recycled instead of ending up in landfill is very good news. This is because many carpets on the more budget-friendly side of things are made from synthetic materials like polypropylene, polyester, or nylon. These are essentially plastics that are made from petroleum, so as you can imagine, the manufacture, and disposal of carpets on landfill sites is bad news for the environment. Petroleum is a very polluting raw material, and we all know how long plastics take to decompose. Not only that, polypropylene carpets make up about 80% of the carpets that we buy, and they are often coated with chemicals which, when a carpet is dumped, can leach into the soil and groundwater.
So how can you recycle or reuse carpets?
You can take it to your local recycling centre. Check your council’s website for specifics, but many centres accept them.
If the carpets are in good condition, you can sell them, or even give them a good clean and reuse them in another one of your properties. Try sites like eBay or Gumtree, or try your local paper’s free classified ad section.
Returning your carpet to the retailer you bought it from is another option. You’re a landlord, so you most likely send a lot of business someone’s way. Carpet shops will often remove and recycle old carpets when it’s time for you to buy a new one, so it’s always worth asking.
If you’re feeling charitable, or you’re revamping a few of your properties, why not give your old carpets away for free to someone who needs it more than you? Try advertising your carpets on Freecycle where anyone who is interested can contact you and arrange to collect the carpets. It’s better they go to a good home rather than lying rotting away in landfill.
You can also donate your carpet to charity. Contact charities in your local area to see if they accept carpets that are in reasonably good condition. Some charity shops sell furniture and other items of homeware so it’s worth asking.
Consider donating your carpet to the Reuse Network, a very good cause that accepts donations of furniture and other household goods, then sells them on at a very reasonable price to people who are vulnerable or who are living in poverty. Check to see if there’s a Reuse centre near you here.
Don’t forget, there might be some four-legged friends who might benefit from your carpet too. Why not consider giving it to a local animal shelter? Carpets make great mats and lining for cages and kennels and help to keep animals warm and comfortable.
Of course, you can always keep it and reuse it yourself at home. A carpet is perfect for:
- Insulating your compost heap
- Lining a garden pond. Lay the carpet down before the liner to protect the liner from stones and other debris
- Covering your car windscreen to protect it from frost and ice
- Preventing weeds from growing on a vegetable patch
We hope this helps!