July 2006

Volume 15, Number 7

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Carpet Recycling Sees Measured Progress

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The Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) was created in 2002 to help the industry meet the carpet recycling and reuse goals set forth by the Memorandum of Understanding for Carpet Stewardship (MOU), a voluntary agreement signed by members of the carpet industry, government entities, and nongovernmental organizations. How successful is CARE? The organization announced survey results in May 2006 showing 225 million pounds (102 million kg) of post-consumer carpet diverted from landfills in 2005, or 4.5% of the five billion pounds (2.3 billion kg) of discards. The results are an increase of 108% from 2004 but still represent less than half of the MOU goal for 2006 of 528 million pounds diverted.

CARE’s executive director, Bob Peoples, forecasts another 100% increase in carpet recycling for 2006, but CARE’s survey showed that manufacturers want more market development for post-consumer carpet. One manufacturer, Tandus Group, Inc., recently walked out on CARE, saying that it’s not doing enough to help develop federal procurement guidelines for carpet containing post-consumer carpet. “Because a large part of the industry cannot meet those guidelines, they have actively opposed them,” Dobbin Callahan, general manager of government markets for Tandus, told EBN. Despite the difficulties some companies are having in producing carpet with post-consumer content, Callahan said the industry is at a point where procurement rules could spur the needed technical development.

Peoples played down the significance of Tandus’ departure, pointing to CARE’s recent hiring of a consultant to smooth the road toward procurement guidelines. He said, however, that “today neither the technology nor the economics exist to put that much carpet back into carpet. We have to put carpet into a whole lot of other things.”

California is not waiting for CARE or the federal government. An interagency state government task force established a rule, effective September 1, 2006, that all new and most replacement carpeting purchased for use in state buildings must contain at least 10% recycled content. Following from Governor Schwarzenegger’s Green Building Initiative, the rule will affect the 12 million ft2 (1,100,000 m2) of new carpet purchased by the state every year. While welcoming the initiative, Callahan argued that a single federal rule would be preferable to a patchwork of state rules, and he signaled Tandus’ intent to work independently toward that goal.

— TR

For more information:

Carpet America Recovery Effort


State of California Department of

General Services


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July 9, 2006