Atlanta, Georgia, January 8, 2002 — A groundbreaking agreement known as the National Carpet Recycling Agreement was signed today by carpet and fiber manufacturers, the Carpet and Rug Institute, state governments, non-governmental organizations and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). The voluntary agreement is the first of its kind in the country, and it aims to eliminate landfill disposal and incineration of used carpet.
“The National Carpet Recycling Agreement provides a new cooperative model between business and the states. This has been a state- and industry-convened process, with great participation from U.S. EPA,” said Sherry Enzler, Director, Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance. “It’s been very rewarding to be part of a cooperative national initiative that will ultimately benefit the carpet industry, its customers and the environment.”
Government and industry have worked together for two years to craft an agreement that encourages product stewardship—meaning carpet manufacturers assume responsibility for carpet throughout its life cycle—from design to disposal.
With more than 2.5 million tons of carpet discarded each year and landfill capacity declining, there’s an environmental need to recycle and reuse carpet. Furthermore, used carpet is difficult and expensive to manage due to its heavy and bulky nature. This burdens waste processors and often results in the illegal disposal of carpet by the general public.
“The National Carpet Recycling Agreement signifies a new approach in how government and industry work together to protect the environment,” said Elizabeth Cotsworth, Director, Office of Solid Waste, U.S. EPA. “Since the agreement is entirely voluntary, carpet manufacturers are able to define the best approach for achieving a 40% landfill diversion goal in the agreement’s ten-year span.”
In addition to reducing the burden on landfills, carpet recycling and reuse provides other benefits. For example, Honeywell estimates that its carpet-recycling program saves more than 700,000 barrels of oil per year, conserving 4.4 trillion BTUs of energy. C&A Floorcoverings, Inc., a commercial flooring manufacturer, estimates that its recycling program reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 22 million pounds from 1993 through 1999. Additionally, nylon fiber, the primary material in carpet, is a valuable polymer that can be recycled and used to make new products, such as injection-molded auto parts.
To help manufacturers, material suppliers and local governments efficiently and cost-effectively recycle and reuse carpet, the carpet industry has established a third-party organization known as the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE). During the agreement’s ten-year span, CARE will work to establish collection systems for used consumer carpet.
“The National Carpet Recycling Agreement creates the right motivational climate and multi-stakeholder partnerships that will help us reach our 40% diversion goal while recovering the maximum possible value from used and spent carpet,” said Werner Braun, President, The Carpet and Rug Institute. “The carpet industry has, over the years, shown its commitment to sustainability as described in The Report of the President’s Council on Sustainability. This commitment is further demonstrated today in our signing the National Agreement on Carpet Recycling. The challenges in reaching the goal are large but the opportunities are equally large and justify our effort.
More information on the National Carpet Recycling Agreement is available on the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance (OEA) web site at www.moea.state.mn.us/carpet. The OEA has been a primary driver in reaching the National Carpet Recycling Agreement.
About the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance
The Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance helps Minnesotans make informed decisions and take actions that conserve resources and prevent pollution and waste to benefit the environment, economy and society.