Great idea to recycle old carpet, and here’s why: Rolls of old carpeting resting by the curb are a familiar sight during the summer “renovation season,” but they shouldn’t be; every year, a staggering five billion pounds of carpet is needlessly deposited in American landfills. This is especially problematic because the vast majority of carpets are made out of artificial materials that do not readily biodegrade; the waste from old carpets, therefore, builds up over time, putting a progressively greater burden on the planet.
Fortunately, the American government has partnered with various industries to create the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), an organization which aims to promote the recycling of old carpets. In the past, carpets were difficult to recycle owing to their complex construction, but CARE has stepped in to form a national network of recyclers that have the knowledge and equipment needed to turn old carpet into raw materials. These materials can then be used to manufacture a variety of everyday products.
There are a few caveats to be aware of when seeking CARE’s services, however: One, CARE is not yet well-established and as such, its recycling program may be not available in your area; two, CARE is not free. Depending on where you are located, you can expect to pay from 5 to 25 cents per pound of a carpet when enlisting CARE’s recycling services.
Alternatives To CARE
If you want to recycle old carpet and CARE is not available in your area or you cannot afford to hire their services, don’t give up; there are other ways to recycle old carpets efficiently:
1. Contact individual carpet companies in your area to see if they will take your old carpet off your hands. Some carpet companies offer carpeting lines that contain recycled material; as such, they may be willing to let you ship your old carpets to them free of charge. Ask your local carpet dealer for advice on which companies near you offer this service.
2. Donate your old carpet to charity. If your carpet is still in “like new” condition, you may be able to donate it to a charity that specializes in providing low-income housing, such as Habitat For Humanity. Old, worn carpet typically cannot be donated to charity due to health concerns, but you may find a willing taker on a “give away” service like Freecycle.
3. Find ways to reuse some or all of the carpet. Reusing is ultimately superior to recycling from an environmental perspective as it requires no energy use and produces no emissions. You can reuse some or all of your old carpet by cutting it up and using it to create pads for kitchen chairs and heavy pieces of furniture, mats for high traffic areas (e.g. sheds, gardens, and workshops), bedding for pets, insulation, and scrubbing pads.
Remember, we only have one planet, so it’s essential that we do everything we can to protect it. By recycling your carpet—however, you choose to do so—you will be keeping a great deal of harmful waste out of American landfills.
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