By Cary Woodfield
Increased efforts to recycle carpet have been making industry news for the last few years. These efforts include both ends of the supply chain.
Here is my take on these efforts. Any effort to recycle is better than nothing, as the purchaser of large quantities of carpet with locations globally I face a unique challenge. If I was installing carpet in my home town, county or state re-cycling would be easy. If I was pulling up re-cycle friendly carpet it would be much easier.
We are pulling up Nylon 6.6 commercial carpet with attached cushion backing that has been installed with direct glue all over the world. Try to find a re-cycler in Union Indiana, Zuni New Mexico, Aba Nigeria, Trujillo Peru or Apia Samoa
It is not very easy to pull up direct glue carpet in the size required by some re-cyclers, sometimes it lifts right up and other times it comes up in little tiny piece or chunks. There is very little yield from a commercial grade carpet even if you shave the face fiber off the back you do not get very much material to re-use. There is very little one can do with poly-urethane attached cushion.
One has to decide do I want to sacrifice longevity, reduce my life cycle expectations while increasing my total cost of ownership? Or do I move to products with higher re-cycled content and better re-cycle options but will need to be replaced more often costing me more money?
To me I am being more environmentally friendly if I use a product with less re-cycling options that will last over 20 years than if I select a carpet that will only last 5, 7 or 10 years. Let’s say I have a 20,000 square foot building, the first installation lasts 21 years vs. a carpet that only last 7 years. Buying a carpet that lasts longer means I buy less carpet, I use less energy, less labor, less transportation and I keep about 4500 yards of carpet out of the land fill or needing to be recycled, to me this is being true green.
The other thing to think about is if you buy a carpet that lasts 20 plus years what type of re-cycling options will we have in 2032 that do not even exist today. So buy carpet that cost a little more up front, is cheaper to maintain and doesn’t need to be re-cycled until 2032, to me that is being environmentally friendly
As an end user I see things different, I am the one writing the check for other people’s brilliant ideas. The biggest issue I have with any recycling program is the increased cost to re-cycle. I know some argue it is free or cheaper than putting it in the landfill, I disagree. I have actual real life estimates and the added costs I am talking about are:
Estimates I have received show these added costs range from $3.00 to $5.00 per square yard to recycle carpet. Don’t get me wrong, I want to recycle but I do not know as an end user how to justify it at this point of time. I will continue to research and explore option. I will continue to use carpet I can get 20 plus years out of so I avoid having to buy, replace and dispose of carpet every 5 to 10 years.
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