carpet recycling industry to expand
Recycling most of the 50,000 tons of used
carpet generated annually in Seattle and King County that is
currently going into landfills is the goal of a new carpet recycling
strategy by King County and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU).
In order to divert used and scrap carpet from the landfill and
to boost recycling, the King County Solid Waste Division’s LinkUp
program and SPU organized a Carpet Recycling Workgroup comprised
of state and local governments and research university representatives
from Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia.
The result of the collaboration is the Northwest Carpet Recycling
Strategy, which aims to increase demand for carpet recycling
and drive demand for commodities derived from and products made
with recovered carpet fiber.
The multi-agency workgroup gathered input from industry experts
and stakeholders to create the strategy. The workgroup hosted
two business roundtable sessions with industry stakeholders to
gain input while developing the plan. Parties provided input
about what were the most important activities needed to get carpet
recycling established in the region.
The findings from these roundtable sessions were then combined
with input from the workgroup members and a list of possible
strategies and tactics emerged. The workgroup then prioritized
and combined tactics into the recommended actions included in
the final Northwest Carpet Recycling Strategy.
The strategy also includes action items to pursue product stewardship
measures such as legislation, memoranda of understanding, product
redesign, closed loop recycling, and take back programs. The
goal of such activities is to utilize solid waste and other public
policies to influence costs and facilitate the flow of quality
material toward recycling.
Other actions outlined in the strategy include reduction of asbestos
contamination in used carpet, formation of a consortium focused
on bringing a carpet processing facility to the Northwest and
continued collaboration between interested parties.
A number of items in the action plan are already under way, and
some co exist with other programs in both the public and private
sectors. The priority items that King County LinkUp and SPU will
be working on in the near term include increasing demand for
carpet recycling and driving demand for commodities derived from
and made with recovered carpet fiber. The strategy will be implemented
over the next couple of years.
According to the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) 2008 Annual
Report, of the 2,821,000 tons of post consumer carpet discarded
in 2008 in the United States, 122,000 tons (243 million pounds)
or 4 percent was recycled. Currently, most of the 50,000 tons
of used and scrap carpet generated in Seattle and King County
is being landfilled; area solid waste agencies estimate that
only a very small percentage is recycled.