CARE has published a four-page flyer that describes the California Carpet Stewardship Program and recent progress, aimed at informing retailers and increasing collection of carpet for recycling. It will be mailed in July to thousands of retailers and flooring contractors across the state. The flyer details CARE’s work with retailers, installers, manufacturers, processors and local government to increase the amount of carpet collected, kept out of landfill and made into useful new products. It introduces the carpet assessment and how it is used and details how CARE is working to increase recycling rate for carpet in California, which is showing excellent progress over the past five years.
Delaware, OH-based necoTech is testing the addition of densified California post-consumer carpet (PCC) material to concrete and asphalt, a potentially huge market for this recycled carpet material. The company first learned about CARE and its support for carpet recycling research at plastic industry trade shows. A CARE grant then funded testing the California-sourced PCC material as a raw component in asphalt and concrete through the National Center for Asphalt Technology. Additional testing was conducted on carpet material as a binder in glue that holds pavement together, to replace virgin plastic. CEO Steve Flaherty noted that while others were also working on viable alternatives for reuse of carpet components, the infrastructure sector has a market size in the trillions and “large problems need large end markets.” necoTech had been working with mixed plastic waste, but according to Flaherty, “Incorporating carpet into the mix allows for stabilization to the raw material supply, resulting in consistency and better overall quality control”.
Location: Delaware, OH
Grant Amount: $100,000; match $10,000
Total Cost of Project: $110,000
Project Timeline: August 31, 2020 – Sept 30, 2021
“The CARE grant gave us the kick-start to disrupt an industry; the grant was a market signal that a startup can be legitimate and have its technology validated.” Steve Flaherty, CEO, necoTech
Flaherty noted that the CARE grant “gave us the kick-start to disrupt an industry; the grant was a market signal that a startup can be legitimate and have its technology validated.” The grant paid for tests and certifications. necoTech works with the Army Corps of Engineers on two contracts with the U.S. Air Force: an AFWERX Phase I contract to explore recycled polymer modified asphalt for use on air bases around the globe and a $500,000 Phase II contract using their asphalt patching solution.
Challenges included how to make the recycled carpet material appreciated for its homogeneity and performance as an added value beyond sustainability. Flaherty notes, “Specs are written around virgin materials; having (recycled carpet material) accepted is a barrier – we’re getting there. Also important is testing with the right partners. By going to the Army Corps of Engineers, we are creating instant connections with profound engineers and voices in the community with the same interests. Still, establishing those relationships is a challenge.”
Project Benefits and Outcomes
The testing shows success in producing a polymer-modified asphalt product that performs equal to or better than conventional pavement at a cost savings. Flaherty continued, “On concrete, we found promise in applications, where [our product] performed comparable to other methods and produced a cementitious product.”
The environmental benefit of recycled carpet material is that it replaces virgin materials, including natural materials like sand, that create significant greenhouse gas emissions. As Flaherty notes, “Breaking rock into smaller pieces is neither cheap nor eco friendly.” Additionally, necoTech was able to create a recycled polymer modified binder (glue) that displaces the use of petroleum-based virgin polymers along with their environmental impact. necoTech is now testing the binder in pavement mix designs with promising results.
The positive testing results coupled with the prestige of the secured military contracts has necoTech positioned for impressive growth. necoTech has been able to leverage the momentum from the grant into a national partnership with The Pavement Group, a national asphalt contractor out of Pittsburgh, PA. Additionally, necoTech is working with the producers of Pave the Road, an award-winning documentary, to explore partnership opportunities for using plastic waste in road construction, as identified in the film.
necoTech CEO Steve Flaherty explains the sustainability aspects of the company’s products.
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
CARE’s California Carpet Stewardship Program extended its solid recovery in Q1 2021, with continued increase in the collection and recycling rates. The Recycling Rate for Q1 was 26 percent, setting another high-water mark. This represents the continuation since 2015 of significant increases in the Recycling Rate, on average 20 percent per year through 2020. The yield (output/collections) was 77 percent. Efforts continue to enable expanded collections to support the higher recycled output. There are now 86 CARE Public Drop-Off Sites, and the total carpet collection network (public + private) in Q1 was 275 sites across the state.
916 Floors, currently co-owned by Pavlo Pavlyuk and his father, who started the business in 2002, is a flooring retailer in the greater Sacramento area focused on the residential sector. Its Cycle 3M CARE grant funded the purchase of a specialized trailer that will allow flooring contractors to source-separate post-consumer carpet at job sites and haul it directly to a local recycler, often saving labor hours and expense.
Location: Roseville, California
Project Timeline: September 2020 – January 2021
Grant Amount and Match: $15,000, with in additional $3,000 by 916 Floors.
Total Cost of Project: $18,000
Conscious of the tight spaces and narrow streets that often characterize residential flooring work, 916 Floors owner Pavlo Pavlyuk interviewed installers to find out what would help them recycle carpet. His findings led to the idea for the custom dump-box, which he plans to patent. At just seven feet wide, the dump-box wheels don’t stick out. Towing mirrors are not needed, and parking is easy in narrow streets and residential neighborhoods. With its slim profile, the dump box takes up the same space as an average sedan. A wireless hydraulic tilt system makes it easier to load and unload and eliminates the need for stairs or a ramp.
When first looking to recycle more carpet, 916 Floors purchased a dump trailer, but that did not always keep the carpet dry. So they approached a company to make a custom-built trailer. While buying an off-the-shelf trailer would have been faster, Pavlyuk feels it was well worth the extra time to have the custom trailer built to his specifications.
Project Benefits and Outcomes
The trailer holds 20 cubic yards of carpet and pad, Pavlyuk notes the time savings, “The average installer takes three to four days to fill this trailer and then makes one trip to a recycler.”The grant is expected to result in an additional 470,000 pounds of carpet collected annually for recycling by 916 Floors.
This is one of a series of case studies that illustrate the impact of grant funding on the carpet recycling industry in California.
Other Grantee Case Studies:
Learn more on our Grants page.
The year 2020 presented unimaginable challenges for all of us, and CARE’s grant-funded carpet recyclers and collectors were no exception. Yet despite unprecedented headwinds, many grantees kept pace with 2019 metrics or made strides toward new objectives by year’s end.
In 2020 the Program awarded six capital grants and three testing grants to nine companies, and seven micro grants to seven California-based post-consumer carpet (PCC) public drop-off sites or flooring retailers source separating PCC for recycling. These three grant cycles awarded approximately $2.2 million in grant funding, and nearly 70 percent is designated for California-based companies. Four new PCC collectors came online as a result of the program, as well as two new rural counties that did not previously have a public PCC drop-off site. Since CARE’s grant program began, more than 80 percent of funding has been awarded to California companies. Capital projects are projecting at least 25 million additional post-consumer carpet pounds collected, processed or manufactured into new products in 2021.
Prior Grantees Keep Up the Pace and Reach Milestones
Grant-funded capital projects launched prior to 2020 resulted in over 30 million pounds of recycled output or PCC in finished secondary products. They also resulted in more than 15 million additional pounds of PCC collected for recycling. Most notably, Aquafil’s new PCC processing plant in Woodland, Calif., and the third in the state became operational, and Los Angeles Fiber Co. in Vernon, Calif., took the final steps in starting up its dust plant, which significantly increases PCC processing yield. Two California recyclers also began accepting commercial broadloom carpet for processing. Cycle 3 testing grantees awarded in 2020 are exploring four new applications or products for PCC use. Cycle 2 testing grantees Visions Environmental and Green Hive Group, both located in Northern California, made progress toward opening markets for their new products. Visions will now be selling its decorative landscape products, containing carpet backing material known as PC4, in more than 400 Walmart stores.
Micro Grants Expand Collection
The Cycle 3 micro grants program (Cycle 3M) launched a new concept in 2020: small, easy-to-maneuver trailers for flooring contractors source separating PCC at job sites for recycling. In all, three Sacramento-based flooring retailers were awarded this type of equipment. Cycle 3M also awarded five containers for PCC collection and recycling at three new retailer accounts and in two counties that previously did not have carpet recycling programs. Cycle 1 and 2 micro grantees also collected over 8 million pounds of California-sourced PCC as a result of their grant funding. Cycle 3 micro grants are expected to result in at least 2 million additional pounds collected in 2021.
New Cycles Planned
CARE anticipates launching Cycle 5 of its capital grants program, and Cycle 4 of its testing grants program in April. CARE also opened Cycle 4 of its micro grant program this month, and interested entities may now apply through CARE’s new, easy-to-use online grant application form.
For questions about the CARE grants program, please email Abbie Beane, CARE grants administrator, at ABeane@CarpetRecovery.org.
For more information about current grant cycles and grant awardees, visit our Grants page.