Going Green: Recycling, Reusing, Rethinking Old Rugs

Going Green: Recycling, Reusing, Rethinking Old Rugs

According to information on the Color Your Carpet website, every year 800 million square feet of carpet is added nationally to our already straining landfills, that is four billion pounds. Over 70% of this carpet replacing is not because of wear, but it is cosmetic. Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) is doing something about it. 

Carpet Producers Find a Way

Through CARE’s Corporate Sustaining Partners Programs, all of the major carpet producers in the United States are finding ways to recycle old carpeting by reusing it and thinking how to repurpose it instead of throwing it into landfills.

Leadership in the fight includes Mohawk, Shaw, Masland, and more. Shaw is leading the charge with their Carpet Recycling Network. Working through many of their customer outlets, they are taking back used carpet and converting it into other products. 

On the Shaw Floors website they explain what they do with the rugs they have collected, “we reclaim and recycle approximately 100 million pounds of carpet a year – converting the materials we reclaim back into carpet, into products for other industries, or energy to power our manufacturing operations.” 

Using Recycled Fiber for Good

Post consumer carpet fiber is being made into things like carpet padding, filters for septic and storm water management, auto parts, and concrete.

In the Middle Tennessee area, Southeastern Recycling in Nashville will accept used carpet for reprocessing. They follow guidelines set down by CARE. These guidelines are as follows:

Carpets must meet the requirements below to be accepted for recycling.

  1. Collection sites will accept post-consumer broadloom carpet or carpet tiles. No carpet cushion, padding, hard surface flooring, etc.; and no carpet with rubberized backing.
  2. Carpet must be free of trash and debris (e.g. no tack strips, cutting blades, sharps, trash).
  3. Carpet must be dry.
  4. Carpets must be rolled with the fiber side out, and cut in 6 foot widths so it can be stacked easily
  5. Carpet cannot be contaminated with body fluids, chemicals, pharmaceutical contaminants, or asbestos

Recycling Carpet – You Make a Difference

Before carpeting can be dropped off at a recycling center, arrangements must be made with the center and a specific set of instructions must be followed.

An easier way to help with the recycling effort, according to Shaw’s site, is to ask the store where you purchased your carpet if they are involved in any recycling programs. Many Shaw carpet dealers will remove your old carpet for you and drop it off at a reclamation center. But make sure they know you want to do this in advance, so they can prep it correctly, and they insure it does not get wet.

Old Carpets Can Learn New Tricks

There are a number of used for old carpeting, besides cat scratching posts, and the Little Things website has a number of creative suggestions, among them:

  • Make kneepads
  • Use it to move heavy furniture
  • Turn it into car mats
  • Use it to sop up indoor plant water by placing it in the bottom of pots
  • Make coasters

For more information about reclaiming carpet, visit Shaw Flooring’s website. And read more about the national effort at https://carpetrecovery.org.