CARE’s California Program in 2016: Efforts and Results

Posted on May 9, 2017

While the recycling industry has faced many challenges in the past few years, CARE is working to grow the amount of carpet collected and recycled in California. Here is a rundown of the California Carpet Stewardship Program’s efforts and results in 2016.

In California in 2016:

  • 107 million pounds of post-consumer carpet was collected before it could go to landfill (up 4% from the 103 million collected in 2015.)
  • 37 million pounds of recycled output was produced (up 6% over the 35 million pounds recycled in 2015.)
  • 11% of total estimated California post consumer carpet discards were recycled in 2016, falling short of the 16% recycling goal.

Subsidies

California is the only state to have a product stewardship law for carpet. All of CARE’s California Carpet Stewardship Program funding is derived from the carpet assessment charged to California consumers – currently 25 cents per square yard.

The bulk of the Program’s budget goes to subsidies, with a goal of incentivizing increased diversion, recycling and reuse. In 2016, CARE’s California Program invested $10 million in subsidies paid to support carpet processors, collector/sorter entrepreneurs and manufacturers.

CARE’s calcium carbonate subsidy, added in 2015, increased recovery and use of calcium carbonate in the manufacture of secondary products totaling 2.4 million pounds in 2016, up from just 61,000 pounds in 2015.

Although a smaller portion of the carpet waste stream, carpet tiles are up to 100% recyclable, representing an important opportunity to increase recycling rates. CARE carpet tile subsidies helped to recycle over 1 million pounds in 2016, an increase of 27% over 2015.

Market Development

In addition to supporting the carpet recycling ecosystem, CARE’s market-based approach also supports growing the number and demand for products made with post-consumer recycled carpet. In 2016, CARE’s California program:

  • Awarded $2 million in grants to support capital investments and product testing, increasing California’s recycling capacity by an estimated 30%, and creating over a dozen new California jobs.
  • Offered product procurement grants to increase demand for recycled carpet products, testing grants to explore and expand the uses for post-consumer recycled carpet content and technical assistance to develop new products, markets and consumer demand.

See our Grants page for details.

Ongoing Efforts to Support the Carpet Collection

CA Drop off site mapIn order to recycle more carpet, CARE works to make recycling more convenient by providing support and technical assistance to drop-off sites across the state; California is the only state with this kind of program. The number of CARE-supported California drop-off sites increased to 33 in 2016 from 23 sites in 2015, a 43% increase. New sites continue to be added this year with 37 sites to date. Additional collection sites are supported directly by private collector sorter entrepreneurs, estimated at over 200 sites statewide. Supported by education and outreach, the number of pounds collected by CARE drop-off sites in 2016 increased by 74% over 2015. See the drop-off site map for California.

Product Development

An important part of promoting recycling is expanding the amount of carpet that can be recycled into new products. There has been a significant increase in the number of recycled carpet products and vendors, driven by the California program, with more than 25 products now available from 10 vendors. See the CARE Product Catalog and Buy Recycled pages for details.

Double Green logoIn 2016, CARE launched the DoubleGreenTM designation to encourage the inclusion of post-consumer carpet in secondary products. Double GreenTM-labeled products contain recycled California post-consumer carpet material plus at least one other post-consumer recycled material.

The recycling industry has seen many challenges lately, from world commodity prices to shifting business trends. CARE continues to work to meet the requirements of California’s Carpet Stewardship law and to support the retailers, processors and manufacturers that make carpet recycling possible.

For more detail, see the Presentation below, as delivered to the CARE National Conference in May 2017: