What can carpet be recycled into?
More and more uses are being found for carpet waste as new technologies develop.
Recycling wool rich carpet
Underlay and insulation
Fibres from wool rich carpets have excellent insulating properties making them perfect for use in underlay and both sound and heat insulation products. The waste carpet fibres are pulled and blended with other fibres to create suitable materials. The process is being used both for fitting offcuts and for offcuts produced during manufacture – carpet manufacturers can now create a closed loop system and stop sending waste to landfill.
Compost and growing media
Due to the high nitrogen content, the fibres from wool-rich carpet are ideal as a peat replacement and soil enhancer for contained growing media (for example, in grow mats for herbs, green roofs and compost.)
Recycling synthetic carpets
Equestrian surfaces: Mixed synthetic carpet is shredded and mixed with sand, to form a surface for equestrian use.
Nylon recovery: Nylon from carpets can be extruded and injection moulded into engineering plastics such as washing machine parts or wheel trims.
Polypropylene recovery: Carpets with polypropylene face fibre and polypropylene backing can be shredded, granulated and extruded into pellets.
Carpet tile re-use
Carpet tiles with a durable nylon pile can often be re-furbished and re-used. There are a growing number of carpet tile re-use and re-sale schemes, often run by community organisations which give training placements to marginalised people and provide low-cost flooring to households and charities. For suppliers of used carpet tiles, see Find used carpet tiles.
Carpet tile recycling
Where carpet tiles aren’t suitable for re-use, they can be recycled by separating the nylon fibres from the bitumen backing. The fibres are then recycled into yarn for new carpet, and the bitumen into applications such as roofing and road surfaces.
Energy from waste
There will always be some carpet waste that can’t be recycled, either because it is too difficult to separate out the different materials or because the carpet is too contaminated by what’s been spilt on it during its lifetime. As carpet has a high calorific value, however, this unrecyclable carpet waste can be put to use to produce energy from waste (EFW) – for example, as a fuel replacement for cement kilns.
We help our members develop carpet recycling and re-use ideas. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org