125k tonnes of carpet diverted from landfill in 2015

In 2015, 125,000 tonnes of carpet were recycled or recovered for energy by members of industry recycling group Carpet Recycling UK (CRUK), equating to a 31 per cent landfill diversion rate for waste carpet, surpassing its 25 per cent target established in 2008.

Energy recovery accounted for 81,000 tonnes (65 per cent) of the total, and 44,000 tonnes (35 per cent) of waste carpet were recycled, with both sectors showing similar growth levels.

This follows stagnation in the rise in recycling rates for the sector a couple of years ago. Previously, CRUK had set yearly targets for limiting the amount of waste sent for energy recovery. For 2014, it aimed to limit energy recovery to 55 per cent of the diversion total, but no such goal was set for 2015. Growth was up by 11 per cent overall compared to 2014, when 113,000 tonnes (28 per cent) were diverted from landfill. Around 400,000 tonnes of waste carpet arises each year in the UK.

Energy recovery is a growing outlet for waste carpet, where it is used it as an alternative fuel replacement for cement kilns or incinerated as municipal solid waste (MSW).

CRUK is a non-for-profit membership association that works with members including John Lewis, Desso and Marlings to find new ends uses for recycled carpet, facilitate relationships between carpet suppliers and recyclers and lobby for policy, research and development.

CRUK Director, Laurance Bird said: “Diverting waste carpet from landfill is now firmly established with new recyclers focusing on this material stream and existing recyclers adding capacity based on increased demands from local authorities and waste management companies.”

Bird added that retailers and flooring contractors are realising the benefits of recycling old carpets and offcuts as enquiries from the flooring sector “rose by 96 per cent to 280”, which shows interest in “reducing their environmental impact and finding more sustainable disposal routes for waste carpet”. Overall, enquiries were up 15 per cent to 780.

CRUK offers an advice and guidance service to local authorities, including the London Waste and Recycling Board, and it says the use of the service has demonstrated the potential to further increase the recycling of carpets throughout the metropolitan area and other communities.

According to Bird, local authorities across the UK have welcomed the opportunity to grow recycling rates as the EU’s target to recycle 50 per cent of MSW by 2020 approaches. He said: “Finding sustainable and practical alternatives to landfill for bulky carpet waste will certainly help to ease the pressure in meeting these challenging future goals.”

Carpet waste supplying equestrian sector

Last week, Welsh carpet recycling facility, Potter Recycling opened a new recycling plant that will supply recycled carpet fibres to the equestrian sector.

The plant takes in carpets that are unsuitable for reuse and shreds them to the right consistency for use in flooring for equestrian exercise areas. The resulting product ‘presents an even and consistent surface, providing a cushioning effect and reducing the impact on horses’ legs whilst exercising, as well as improving drainage and increasing resistance to frost’.

The facility will collect carpet waste from the company’s 12 recycling centres and waste management facilities in Wales and aims to divert around 2,000 tonnes of carpet waste from landfill every year, with the potential to increase its intake to 6,000 tonnes a year.

For more on carpet recycling, visit CRUK's website.

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