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Brief Published: 19 Nov 2019

Targeting the Carpet Industry’s Waste

Mieke Lucia

The UK alone produces 40,000 tonnes of carpet waste every year, with over half of this ending up in landfill (CRUK, 2019). However, it’s a difficult and expensive product to recycle, consisting of robust adhesives and complex mixes of materials. As momentum increases to tackle such problematic waste streams, we highlight the ventures focusing on the carpet industry.

  • Global science company DSM and Dutch design start-up Niaga have developed a 100% recyclable, mono-material carpet made entirely from polyester. This removes the need for complex recycling procedures, while innovative bonding through heat and pressure replaces the use of adhesives.
  • Meanwhile in the US, materials manufacturer Eastman has partnered with recycling company Circular Polymers on an initiative that diverts post-consumer carpet from landfill, and transforms it into raw materials. End-of-life polyester carpet will be collected from homes and businesses, and recycled using the company’s carbon renewal technology – an innovative chemical method that efficiently breaks waste plastics down to their molecular level (such as carbon or hydrogen). These new materials can then be used for products like textiles and cosmetics.
  • Dutch design studio Mieke Lucia has produced a collection of sound-absorbing wall panels, using leftover carpets from flooring company Tarkett. The French company produces on a large-scale and ships globally, with many big commercial orders resulting in leftovers. Using this semi-manufactured waste as a base, the studio employs hand-tufting techniques to transform it into a tactile and graphic range of functional products.
  • Amsterdam-based designer Kevin Shek has visualised a modular and recyclable concept for carpet to improve the product’s life cycle. The carpet consists of three parts: the tufted top layer, an interlocking middle and a 3D backing. This structure holds the layers together without the need for glue. The tufted yarns can be removed, washed and reused, while the rest can be recycled.

See The Wealth In Waste for more on the potential of waste materials, and NeoCon 2018 for more conscientious flooring solutions.