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Number of carpet recycling companies keeps growing
Feb '09
Carpet Recycling UK was formed in March 2008 and is sponsored by a forward thinking group of manufacturers and other participants in the value chain from raw material suppliers to retailers and recyclers. Its mission is to divert carpets from landfill to obtain the best value from the valuable raw materials in them.

This alliance is growing steadily with the 15 founder members being joined recently by Cormar, Mohawk, and Wools of New Zealand. Recycling capacity for carpets is also growing as original founder members Greenback and Spruce Carpets will be joined by seven new recycling entrepreneurs early this year.

These entrepreneurs are making the investments the industry needs to carry out the collection, sorting, and processing for a wide variety of end-uses. Investments up to £500,000 are needed by individual recyclers to cover identification, sorting and size reduction of carpets to produce fibrous products which can have a new life as raw materials.

The overall result will be a carpet recycling capacity of around 20,000 tonnes per year by mid 2009. This is still small in relation to the 500,000 tonnes estimated carpet waste arising per year, but is still great step forward. The result of these investments mean that consumers in 12 counties or metropolitan areas ranging from Lancashire and Yorkshire to the Midlands, south-east and South Wales will now be able to get their carpets recycled for the first time.

For example Shredding Services who started in December will be accepting carpets from Civic Amenity (CA) sites in Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire. Green Recycling in Maldon will be accepting carpets from Essex homes via local CA sites in the coming months.

Consumers in Ireland will also have a new recycling opportunity as Recycle works starts taking carpets from CA sites in the Dublin area, expanding to other areas of Ireland as demand grows from local authorities for this new service. In addition, retailers and flooring contractors in all these new carpet recycling areas will be able to upgrade from landfill to recycling for their fitting wastes, and potentially take back used carpets.

Looking towards 2009 the priorities will be set based on feedback from the existing members. Carpet Recycling UK does need new members in order to get recycling growing faster. This is particularly relevant for the wool-based carpet manufacturers in order to fund the significant research needed to enable wool recyclates to be used for volume applications, land, such as growing media peat replacement, compost, and land remediation.

Risk assessments for the Environment Agency along with growing tests are expected to be around £25,000, which is beyond the funding capabilities of the current membership base. New members are also needed amongst retailers and flooring contractors in order to develop cost effective collection schemes that can handle small quantities regularly.

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