Carpet Recycling Took A Hit in 2016

CARE diverted more than 488 million pounds of carpet from U.S. landfills in 2016, down nearly 6% from 2015

carpet recyclingCarpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) members diverted more than 488 million pounds of carpet from U.S. landfills in 2016, down nearly 6% from 2015, according to the organization’s latest Annual Report.

CARE is 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. According to CARE’s Executive Director Dr. Robert Peoples, 2016 was a challenging year for CARE in terms of marketplace activity and demand for various fiber types.

“Data shows the carpet recycling industry is under mounting stress. Until oil returns to greater than $70 per barrel, we see continuing turbulent times ahead,” said Peoples.

Of the carpet diverted to recycling, 167 million pounds were recycled into carpet and other consumer products, 174 million pounds were sent back to the landfill, and 144 million pounds were sent to waste-to-energy and cement kilns.

According to the report, 72% of recycled post-consumer carpet is manufactured into plastics. This category has grown over the past few years. The amount of material recycled in carpet fiber dropped 10 percentage points, from 13% to 3%. Carpet backing remained constant at 8% of end products manufactured. 11% of recycled post-consumer carpet pounds that were recycled went into new carpet. This is considered a true cradle-to-cradle process.

Carpet recycling employed 1,215 people in 2016. This is a decrease of 80 people or 6% versus the jobs reported in 2015.

To date, CARE members have kept over 4.6 billion pounds of waste carpet out of landfills since the voluntary, non-profit organization was founded in 2002. CARE members include independent carpet recyclers, carpet manufacturers, dealers, retailers and suppliers and non-governmental organizations.