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California consumer support is needed to ensure the success of a new carpet stewardship law that aims to increase the recycling of carpet into new products, preserve landfill space, reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and create green jobs in California communities.
Signed into law on September 30, 2010, AB 2398 is the first product stewardship law in the country to specifically address carpet. Beginning July 1, 2011, a $.05 per square yard stewardship assessment is being added to the sale of all carpet sold or shipped into California. The assessment appears as a separate, after-tax line item to raise consumer awareness about carpet recycling. The revenue generated will be used to incentivize carpet recycling by rewarding entrepreneurs who recycle carpet and produce marketable products made from post-consumer carpet.
According to the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), which is administering the program, more than 400 million pounds of used carpet are currently discarded in California landfills each year. Carpet has been recycled for more than a decade in California and across the U.S, and the recovered carpet resources have been used to manufacture new carpet fiber, building and construction materials, and products for the consumer and automotive industries, among other uses. A key goal of AB 2398 is to increase significantly the quantities of carpet recycled in California.
CalRecycle (California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery) will provide oversight for the AB 2398 program, which requires carpet manufacturers to participate in an approved carpet stewardship program as well as conduct consumer education programs.
“CARE has developed communications materials for consumers, such as signs, store placards and informational flyers,” said Georgina Sikorski, executive director of CARE. These materials were slated to be distributed to stores by July 1. Sikorski emphasized that industry and government alone cannot force recycling to happen and that an increase in recycling will need to be driven largely by consumer demand. “As more new carpet customers ask to have their old carpet recycled instead of being landfilled, retailers are finding ways to make that happen,” she said.