Old Rugs, New Lives

by Editor on May 27, 2013


Carpet Industry Recycles

A Clitheroe carpet company has created a non-profit organization, backed by the government, that aims to recycle 3 tons of carpet and underlay a week – that’s 156 tons per year. Around 400 000 tons of carpet are dumped in the UK each year.

There are numerous uses for recycled carpets. Once broken down into their components, they can be used for sports surfaces, or in the manufacture of new carpets. Indeed, one of the biggest carpet manufacturers in Europe has a recovery scheme where old carpet tiles are separated into their yarn and backing, and used to make new ones. The nylon from old carpets can be utilized to make plastic, the polypropylene is shredded and pelleted for raw material, and the wood can be made into insulation material or mixed with other fibres.

Meanwhile, the bitumen backing can be used for road surfaces and roofing. Nitrogen-rich wool carpets can be recycled and used as a form of compost or soil enhancer, particularly for green roofs. Discarded carpets can also be shredded and converted into fuel stock for as a coal replacement in cement kilns. Since most synthetic carpets are made of compounds that contain hydrocarbons, also found in fossil fuels, old carpets can actually be incredibly valuable.


Carpet Recycling UK, meanwhile, is an initiative that promotes the recycling of carpet, by finding alternate uses for old rugs, encouraging relationships between recyclers and those who require them, lobbying for favourable environmental policy and providing support to carpet recyclers in the UK. Numerous flooring and recycling companies in the UK are members of the organization. The organization also provides suggestions as to what home owners can do with their own excess carpet. Some of the ideas include covering your car windshield to guard against frost, donating to local animal shelters for kennel insulation, lining ponds, restricting weed growth on your paths, and household insulation. CRUK had a showing at London’s Ecobuild 2013, and its annual conference will take place on June 19th.

Recently, the organization even won the Landfill Diversion Strategy category prize at the Resource Revolution Awards 2013, an event honouring those making strides in waste management and recycling. “We are delighted and very proud to have won this award, which honours the efforts, support and commitment across the entire supply chain – manufacturers, flooring contractors, distributors and retailers – who have helped to drive our initiative forward and capture rising waste tonnages that are being diverted from landfill,” said CRUK Director Laurence Bird.

Eco-Centric or Eccentric?

For an alternate take on recycled carpets, an organization aptly named We Make Carpets uses common waste products such as plastic bottles, pegs, kitchen sponges and plastic forks to create decorative and unusual floor coverings. One of the artists involved in the project explained that the carpet is meant to be an “object that makes us think about the consumer society that produces these ‘weaving materials’. A contemporary interpretation of wealth”.

Whether upcycled or recycled, be eco-conscious when choosing your floor covering.

About the Author

Grace Matthews is a London-based lifestyle blogger and clean-freak who relies on the best steam mop to sanitize her living room floors.

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