In February, CARE Executive Director Bob Peoples was the featured guest on the Trash Magic podcast, hosted by Oakley J-Fast, a chemical engineer, and Sara Fuentes, a waste and recycling expert. Bob discusses the importance of carpet recycling, what happens to recycled carpet and misconceptions around the effort.
CARE has launched a new micro website that will be useful for consumers. RecycleMyCarpet.com includes information on carpet reuse, donation, maintenance and recycling.
The site aims to increase California residents’ awareness of environmentally preferable end-of-life options for wall-to-wall carpet and carpet tile.
Q3 2023 financial and operational results for CARE’s California Carpet Stewardship Program have been published. Executive Director Bob Peoples reported that the ongoing decline in carpet sales, combined with other external challenges, led to a decline in the Recycling Rate for carpet to 33 percent. This is the first drop in the rate in over seven years.
The slowdown in the residential sector – which makes up about 86% of sales – continues to impact the collection of carpet. In addition, the pad markets, while not covered by the carpet stewardship law, have collapsed, putting further financial pressure on recyclers.
Used carpet tile can have a useful second life but is often overlooked due to the lack of secondary outlets and the amount of labor required to sort and transport the tile. Before founding Repurpose Earth, mother/daughter team Angie and Andrea Poventud were assisting underserved populations in Wisconsin to secure health insurance. In the same spirit of generosity, the pair is now collecting carpet tile from commercial job sites and redistributing it to disadvantaged communities.
Repurpose Earth collects carpet tile from area construction projects along with attic stock or overages. They sort and clean the tile before donating it. About 5% of the carpet tile is too heavily soiled with glue or dirt to be reused; that tile is sorted by backing for possible recycling.
Repurpose Earth has a seven-pallet minimum for pickup in the LA area, but anyone can make an appointment to drop at their warehouse in Englewood, across from SoFi Stadium. Projects outside of the LA area are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Project Timeline: December 2022-December 2023
Location: Inglewood, CA
Grant Amount and Match: $15,000 grant; $3,000 match
“The CARE grant REALLY helped us out so we can help others. We’re so grateful.” Angie Poventud, Repurpose Earth
Repurpose Earth’s aim is to grow its Los Angeles-based efforts to divert additional post-industrial (tear out) carpet tile to various organizations serving people who need help. Repurpose Earth received a $15,000 grant to purchase a used propane forklift, strapping equipment and an electric pallet jack to enable more efficient sorting and transporting of carpet tile. The equipment was purchased locally and was easy to procure.
The current slowdown in the commercial real estate market means less remodeling, which makes it challenging to access used carpet tile. The new equipment will make it easier to expand beyond the greater Los Angeles area. Project managers tearing out carpet tile are encouraged to contact Repurpose Earth to ensure that their old carpet is put to good use.
Project Benefits and Outcomes
Repurpose Earth has repurposed about 730,000 pounds of carpet tile so far in 2023 (as of October.) The equipment enabled the company to increase collection and redistribution while planning for future growth. Local underserved community benefited from the donated carpet tile.
This is one of a series of case studies that illustrate the impact and logistics of grant funding on the carpet recycling industry in California.
Additional Case Studies
On November 17, CalRecycle approved the following assessment increase (see table below) to go into effect on January 1, 2024. This increase is necessary to ensure the health of the carpet recycling industry in California. CARE formally requested the increase on September 20, 2023.
Retailers are urged to contact their mill representatives for further detail on how the assessment increase will be rolled out to you.
The new levels are:
Compliance with the assessments is compulsory under California law. See the Assessment page for details.