Carpet America Recovery Effort Releases 2019 Annual Report

Progress was made in carpet recycling rates and technological advances.

Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) has released its 2019 Annual Report detailing the industry’s progress despite growing headwinds in 2020. In 2019 CARE administered a $35 million operational budget, comprising core operations to serve its members, along with the Voluntary Product Stewardship Program (VPS) and the California Carpet Stewardship Program.carpet

CARE is a voluntary, non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the landfill diversion, reuse, and recycling of waste carpet, through market-based solutions that benefit the economy as well as the environment.

Progress in 2019 included:

VPS Program Highlights

  • More than $2 million was paid in VPS subsidies in 2019.
  • Total gross U.S. collections were 335 million pounds, up from 281 million pounds in 2018.
  • 98% of the post-consumer carpet collected was processed in the United States.

California Carpet Stewardship Program Highlights

  • 82.1 million pounds of post-consumer carpet was collected before it could go to landfill.
  • 58 million pounds of recycled output was produced (up 18% from the 49.3 million pounds recycled in 2018).
  • The overall 2019 California recycling rate was 19.1%, up 25% versus 2018.

Positive news in 2019 included new members joining the recycling effort, new technology introduced, and new products being developed and brought to market. Of particular note is the advance of chemical recycling and the volume of recycled material it could command once fully implemented. As CARE Executive Director Bob Peoples noted, “Progress was strong in 2019, and there was optimism for the first time in a long time for carpet recycling.”

The Report includes a brief update on events in 2020: “Unfortunately, the carpet industry was not immune to the recession, which resulted in plant closures and more than 10,000 jobs lost or furloughed. A difficult decision was made by the carpet industry leadership to terminate the VPS program effective June 30, 2020 to help offset lost revenues. This challenge is compounded by the potential for additional Covid-19 impacts as the economy moves to restart in the later part of Q2. Of equal concern is the loss of carpet recyclers and associated infrastructure during this recession.”

Source: Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE)

The report includes a broad range of information and charts. From pages 22-23 of the document, the chart below (Figure 8) represents the historical trend of gross pounds of post-consumer carpet collected each year since 2002. Describing the chart, the report states:

Using the mass balance approach, gross collection for 2019 is calculated to be 335 million pounds. This is an increase of 54 million lbs. from 2018 and is the result of a large increase of output in the State of California. While the rest of the country had modest increases in Quarters 2 and 3, California output continued to grow throughout 2019. This is due to the heavily subsidized carpet recycling industry in California. The heavy subsidies buffer – to a certain extent – many businesses in the state from free market dynamics and macroeconomic changes.

Please note that CARE began using the mass balance methodology in 2013. This explains the large jump from 2012 to 2013. Cumulative diversion from landfill since CARE’s inception totals 5.6 billion pounds. CARE is excited about the future and expects this number to grow in the coming years as new technologies continue to be developed and chemical recycling becomes more prevalent.

CARE 2019 Leaders
Sustainability Leaders

  • Aquafil USA
  • Dixie Group
  • Engineered Floors
  • Interface
  • Milliken & Company
  • The Mohawk Group
  • Shaw Industries
  • Tarkett
  • Universal Fibers
  • Wellman Plastics

Access a PDF of the CARE 2019 Annual Report here.