What are the issues?
Americans discard nearly 3.9 million tons of carpet and rugs each year. Not only does scrap carpet take up considerable landfill space, but it is also bulky and difficult to handle, making it costly for local governments to manage. Recycling carpet can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy use; yet, in 2012, only 7.5 percent of carpet was actually recycled. This alarmingly low recycling rate occurred despite industry-run recycling programs, which have been operating on a voluntary basis since 2002.
Although many carpet manufacturers are now producing what they call “environmentally friendly” carpet from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET)—the plastic used to make disposable plastic beverage containers—PET fibers pose considerable environmental problems at the carpet’s end-of-life. Because they are far more costly to recycle than traditional nylon fibers, PET fibers create economic and operational difficulties for recyclers and waste management agencies, leading to more carpet being dumped in landfills instead of being recycled.
In 2010, California passed the nation’s first carpet producer responsibility law, AB 2398, which put into place a mandatory recycling program operated by the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), a national industry stewardship organization. In 2014, a number of other states will be introducing carpet producer responsibility legislation, as well.
What is PSI doing to help?