When to Recycle Carpet?
Can You Recycle Carpet and When Should You?
Estimates showed that in 2020, over 50% of homes in North America had carpet installed, and that each year, over 4 billion pounds of carpet gets sent to the landfill. With an average life cycle of residential carpet being around 10 years and commercial around 7 years, when should you arrange for carpet removal?
Knowing when you should recycle your carpet will greatly depend on the quality, durability and condition of your carpet. Additionally, how much your carpet is soiled and stained will most likely help guide your decision. When your carpet has reached the end of its life and you wonder, “where to recycle carpet near me”, we’re here to help you discover your options.
Carpet Recycling: Materials, Process and Environmental Impact
The biggest question of all is can you recycle carpet? The general answer is yes, carpet can be recycled! To better understand the carpet recycling process and options, it’s important to first look at what carpet is most commonly made of.
Modern carpet can be manufactured out of organic materials such as wool, or maybe more commonly out of synthetic materials. These synthesized materials may commonly be nylon, polyester and polypropylene.
Recent estimates however show that only about 14% of removed carpet is actually kept out of the landfill, with a mere 5% actually being recycled. The remaining 9% can be incinerated and used as a fuel source which is still better than simply burying it in the landfill. Although these synthetic materials can be the same that plastic bottles are made of and may be convenient and affordable, they can take upwards of 500 years to decompose in the landfill.
Fortunately, there are operational technologies and facilities that regularly recycle these plastic products, turning them into new materials. However, do these same facilities also recycle carpet? Lets find out more!
How is Carpet Recycled?
Carpet recycling often starts at the consumer, but ends at the manufacturer. As consumers, it is important for us to ask better questions when purchasing new carpets. We must first take responsibility to buy carpet from manufacturers who are using recycled materials in their fabrication process.
Many of the larger suppliers are now “stepping up” to take more responsibility for our environment when using plastic products. This is vital when attempting to “close the loop” in the recycling and manufacturing processes. But this will only continue to improve if consumers request these actions from the companies manufacturing carpet products.
The general concept for recycling carpet is to sort, separate, clean and process, then re-use the available materials. The specifics on how carpet is recycled however, change greatly depending on the facility and process utilized, however the goal stays the same!
Carpet Recycling Process
When you have carpet removed from your home or work place for recycling, the first step is to sort the carpet based on the material composition. This is first done by using a spectrometer to determine the materials composition of the carpet.
Once sorted, the carpet can then be processed further depending on the facility. Some carpet recycling operations simply offer the collection and sorting, packaging the different types of carpet into large bales and shipping them on to other processing facilities. Other more all-inclusive facilities will handle the sorting themselves then move these materials onto further processing within the same facility.
The most common next step is that the carpet fibres are separated from the bottom matting. This is often done by reducing the carpet pieces through a shredding process which makes them easier to process. Once reduced far enough, these fibres can be sterilized and re-used in the fabrication of new products.
Another advanced facility called Econyl takes the recycling process to a more scientific level. Using a similar primary sorting and shredding process, the fibres are then broken down into their individual polymers in liquid form. This process maintains the chemical properties without any loss in quality and allows for them to be reused in the creation of new nylon yarn products. This specific carpet recycling process can also be used for items such as nylon fishing nets.
Once the carpets materials are broken down, the recycled carpet can be used to manufacture new carpet fibre, flooring tiles, carpet cushion and even automobile parts. Some manufacturers will melt down the carpet fibres and turn them into plastic pellets, turning these components into composite lumber.
Is Carpet Underlay Recyclable?
Carpet underlay is installed between the carpet and the floor to add cushion as you walk on the carpet, also helping to increase the insulation for your feet. This carpet underpad however has the same lifespan as your carpet, and could even become more dirty as it is more difficult to clean. The underlay, also referred to as rebond foam, is primarily manufactured out of polyurethane foam and often contains a high level of recycled foam product.
So is carpet underlay recyclable? Yes, carpet underpad can be recycled. Polyurethane is a plastic product and can often be shredded and melted down and turned into new plastic products. Carpet underlay is no different! When your old underlay is ready for recycling, you should first reach out to your local carpet retailer. Often, carpet retailers have their installers bring back the old carpet underlay to be collected at their facility and then recycled. Other common recyclers of underlay foam could be mattress recyclers as the same type of foam is commonly used in mattresses.
Can I Put Carpet in the Recycling Bin?
Getting rid of your bulky carpet can be a challenge for anyone, even if you have a truck to move it. When your old carpet is pulled up and you are looking for where to put it, you may wonder if you can put your carpet in the recycle bin.
Unfortunately, in the greater Edmonton area, our recycling programs don’t support carpet to be included in the bins. Our green bin program is purely for organic materials, and although wool carpet can be organic, its still not an acceptable material. This also includes our blue bag program, which accepts items such as cardboard, glass and plastic containers and paper. These bags are not a suitable location for your old carpet.
Some apartment buildings or housing complexes that have central garbage and recycling bins may seem more appropriate for larger pieces of carpet. These large recycling bins are essentially the same as the residential blue bag program and cannot accept carpet for recycling. Check with your local waste management company in these cases to see if you’re able to put the carpet in the garbage bins.
In the Edmonton area, the only suitable location for old carpet to be taken to is currently a transfer station or landfill. If you don’t have the means to haul the carpet on your own, Junk 4 Good is happy to assist you with the disposal of your carpet.
Where to Recycle Carpet Near Me
When you’re ready to recycle your old carpet in Edmonton, the options available are unfortunately limited. Because the region has no active carpet recycling operations, the only remaining option is disposal of the carpet itself. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still recycle your old carpet underlay though! Remember, the foam underpad that lives underneath your carpet is still a recyclable material.
When searching for a disposal location to take your carpet to, we always recommend utilizing the conveniently located Eco Stations around the City of Edmonton. These facilities are self-serve, available to Edmonton residents and allow you to dispose of household items for a reasonable fee. Simply load up your vehicle and travel to your closest location to dispose of your old carpets. Additionally, you can always access one of several landfills around the region.
We will send one of our capable teams to your home or workplace to make your carpet removal simple and painless. Our teams are well equipped to safely remove and dispose of your carpet as you prepare for your new flooring. To arrange your hands-off, full service junk removal, you can book online in just a few clicks.