Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle…carpet. Yes, carpet! Would you believe that 1.8 million tons of rugs and carpets are sent to landfills each year? With increasing landfill costs and regulations, major carpet manufacturers are responding by improving the environmental impact of their operations. Almost all used carpet can be recycled into new products such as carpet fiber, carpet backing, flooring material, and auto parts, but perhaps the ultimate example of an environmentally friendly product is the recycled polyester flooring.
Recycled polyester flooring is made from 100% post-consumer recycled food and drink containers. The state-of-the-art process sorts plastic bottles, chops them up into small chips, cleans, and then melts them into a polyester resin. The polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fiber is cut and made into carpet. Approximately 30-40 plastic bottles are recycled for every square yard of carpet produced.
Traditional nylon carpet can be a major source of indoor air contamination due to the latex rubber used to adhere face fibers to backing materials or the adhesives used to install carpets that generate volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Recycled polyester has fewer emissions because it is made with fewer additives. The US Food and Drug Administration does require all plastic beverage containers be made with top quality PET resins, therefore the recycled PET is of superior grade and emits lower VOC’s. Choosing an efficient carpet that improves our indoor air quality is especially important given the huge amount of carpeting used in the United States and its relatively short useful lifetime.
Stain resistance is a natural, permanent physical property of recycled PET fiber. This reduces the amount of chemicals needed either to pre-treat the carpet or to clean the carpet once soiled. The fibers also have a greater capability to accept color so they are richer, truer, and brighter than those found in nylon yarns. Since the color is locked in during the dyeing process, the fibers retain their color longer lengthening the life of carpet.
What can we do reduce our own carbon footprint? Find a company that will keep your old carpet out of the landfill, choose new flooring that is environmentally friendly, and be sure to recycle all your plastic bottles. One man’s waste is another man’s treasure!