How to Recycle...Carpets
Whether you fancy an overhaul of your abode or you’ve just moved into a new place, a new carpet is a must. But when you’ve ripped up the shag pile that’s seen better days, what do you do with it, not to mention the plies of underlay that goes with it?
The UK generates 400,000 tonnes of waste carpet every year, but can it be recycled and what happens to it?
Can carpet be recycled?
Nearly all types of carpet can be recycled and made into a new product, from sports pitches to insulation, but there are difficulties. Some carpets are made from petroleum-based synthetic fibres, which are not the most environmentally-friendly materials. Nylon and polypropylene plastics are the most common components of carpets, and carpet backing mostly consists of latex and PVC. As well as this, chemical dyes and glues can potentially cause harm to health.
Some manufacturers have started to make carpet fibres from corn products and recycled plastic bottles however.
How can you recycle carpet?
Because carpets are thrown away in large quantities, it might not be appropriate to put them out for general waste collection. You might need to take them to a bulky household waste collection point or ask if your local council will collect it. Here are some other options:
If the carpet is in good condition, try selling it on a site like Gumtree or place an ad in your local paper.
Give it to charity, or even family and friends if they need it.
Give it to a gardener
This might not be the first thing that springs to mind, but a carpet is useful for insulating a compost heap, or banishing weeds from a vegetable plot.
Carpet Recycling UK
Carpet Recycling UK is a not for profit organisation, that aims to increase the recycling of carpet waste across the UK. Businesses, residents, and councils are looking for better ways to recycle carpets, and the organisation is trying to help.
What they do
The organisation aims to divert more carpets from going to landfill. They do this by finding new uses for carpet, lobbying for policy changes, and supporting carpet recyclers.
What have they achieved?
- They have increased the amount of carpet diverted from landfill from 2% to 35% in the course of 9 years. In total, this equals 709,000 tonnes of waste.
- They have increased the number of reuse, recycling, and energy recovery facilities they operate from 6 to 20.
- They have recovered 35% more energy from recycling carpets since 2015.
A promising future
Several companies are developing new processes to recover fibres from carpets such as wool and polypropylene which can be turned into plastics and textiles.
Members of Carpet Recycling UK including manufacturers, raw material suppliers, recyclers, retailers, and equipment suppliers are working hard to reduce and recycle carpet waste, and to reduce landfill costs.
The Carpet Recycling UK conference was held in June, and it celebrated the achievements of the member organisations who have demonstrated a commitment to looking for new and sustainable ways to deal with carpet waste.