Links for King County navigational header
eNewslink LinkUp


Summer 2012

Carpet Recycling Takes Center Stage at ShoWare Center

ShoWare attendees

Over 100 attended In the Loop: The NW Carpet Recycling Value Chain event in June.

More than 100,000 tons of carpet enter the waste stream in Washington each year, and about 98 percent is disposed in landfills. However, carpet recycling is on the rise. During the past two years, carpet recycling has become a more viable practice. As carpet processing (separating constituent materials) has increased in the Pacific Northwest, more carpet sellers and installers are able to divert used carpeting for recycling. Hauling companies and sorting facilities have an increased role in moving carpet to processors, and a growing number of companies create new products from the carpet-derived materials. The carpet recycling value chain now exists and continues to develop in our region.

Recognizing this significant milestone in carpet recycling, King County Solid Waste Division and Seattle Public Utilities teamed up with the Washington State Recycling Association (WSRA) on June 21 to present a half-day exhibition and informational summit, “In the Loop: The NW Carpet Recycling Value Chain.”

“Carpet recycling is an important and timely topic,” said Scott Campbell, WSRA president. “The incredible and diverse turnout of industry, trade and government representatives at this event is testament to the urgent need and growing supply of those working at all levels of the value chain.”

More than 115 attendees from seven states converged in the ShoWare Center in Kent, where industry leaders spoke about the complex and interconnected nature of carpet recycling in the Northwest.

Speakers included:
  • Terry Gillis of Recovery 1, a construction and demolition sorting and processing facility, explained how his company utilizes advanced technology to sort and process carpet for recycling markets. He shared his experience with tough issues such as successfully addressing contamination of carpet with asbestos from other building materials.
  • Karl Englund of Washington State University's Composite Materials Engineering Center (CMEC) spoke about ongoing efforts to improve equipment, processing and testing of products made from recycled carpet. In particular, CMEC is investigating ways to convert recycled carpet into various energy fuels, and Karl talked about providing secondary processing to put carpet in a form that manufacturers could use in new products.
  • Ameé Quiriconi of Agrestal Designs shared how her company is using calcium carbonate, a carpet recycling byproduct, to create a high-end line of interior and exterior architectural products.
Terry Gillis of Recovery 1

Terry Gillis, Recovery 1

The event was structured in an interactive and fun format. Attendees were split up into groups, and each began a journey through the ShoWare Center at one of four sessions corresponding with areas of the carpet recycling value chain: 1) Removal, collection and hauling, 2) Sorting and consolidating, 3) Processing, and 4) End markets. Each session began with a talk specific to the link in the value chain and finished with a chance for attendees to visit with several exhibitors and enjoy part of their lunch. When the time was up for each session, a horn sounded and the groups advanced to the next link until the value chain was presented in full.

“The biggest thing I took away was from Station 3, where I learned that there is no end market for PET carpet,” said Jennifer Goodhart, Conservation Program Administrator at the City of Bellevue. “I thought I was doing the right thing by buying recycled PET bottle carpet, but it turns out to be a contaminant in the system. I really hope a solution is discovered soon.”

Exhibitors included:

Mannington Commercial was the presenting sponsor of the event. Additional sponsors included Division 9 Flooring, Aquafil, Interface, Shaw, and CDL Recycle.

To view the complete presentation slides and full attendee list, please visit the WSRA website.

Participants view exhibits.

Participants visit exhibitors after the breakout session presentation on carpet processing.

King County focus

The National Association of Counties has presented the King County Solid Waste Division (SWD) with an “achievement award” for a program that removes alkaline batteries from the waste stream and gives them a second life as steel construction material and other useful products.

An estimated 1.5 million pounds of household batteries are thrown away every year in King County, including a significant amount of alkaline batteries.

Prior to 2011, alkaline batteries were not collected at household hazardous waste facilities in King County because the cost and environmental impact of shipping batteries across the country for recycling outweighed the benefit of recovering the metals contained in these products.

With the knowledge that the recycling method involves recovering the metal parts of the battery, SWD staff investigated whether batteries could be instead recycled at a local steel mill in Seattle. After a lengthy process of evaluating regulatory options and handling procedures, approval was obtained to recycle the batteries at the mill.

Local alkaline battery recycling also makes sense from a cost standpoint. Recycling the batteries in Seattle can be done for nearly $40,000 less per year than shipping them for consolidation in California and then for processing in Pennsylvania, which was the method under the old program.

In the first six months since the County changed its acceptance policy on household hazardous waste to include alkaline batteries, more than 45,000 pounds of used batteries have already been collected — and an estimated 110,000 pounds of alkaline batteries could be collected in 2012.

Through this program, King County residents are now able to recycle their alkaline batteries in a convenient, cost-effective and environmentally sound manner.

Industry Voice

Innovations in carpet recycling are occurring across the market from vendors to recyclers. In this column, eNewsLink highlights Mannington, a leader in carpet recycling, about their successes in recycling.

Mannington has been actively involved in carpet recycling over the past decade. By evaluating its products and processes against its corporate goal of becoming a net-user-of-waste, Mannington has been able to make significant company-wide improvements to attain that goal.

Relay, the first Mannington commercial resilient sheet product designed with recycling in mind, was launched in 2005. Relay contained more than 40 percent by weight post-industrial recycled material, which is recovered from the waste stream of Mannington's carpet tile plant in Georgia. In 2008, Mannington launched a revised Relay product called “Relay RE,” which is third-party-certified as containing 20 percent by weight post-consumer recycled content, and 35 percent total recycled content.

As part of Mannington's ongoing goal to become a net-user-of-waste, the company has taken several different steps to help reduce the amount of carpet that goes into landfills each year. LOOP, Mannington's carpet reclamation program, allows commercial customers to reclaim and recycle spent carpet. In many instances, carpet tile reclamation comes at no charge to its customers, regardless of the original manufacturer.

LOOP also takes post-consumer vinyl composition tile and recycles it into new hard surface products. Partnerships with regional reclamation companies help keep the program's environmental footprint small, and the new product cost-neutral to consumers.

“We feel strongly that we should be part of market-based solutions, and have been a long-time member of CARE,” said Julie Tonning, Mannington District Manager. “Mannington recognizes that sustainability often must be regional and that unique partnerships can foster new approaches.”

Learn more about Mannington's Relay RE line of flooring and its LOOP carpet reclamation program.

Fast facts

Post-Consumer Carpet Recycling and Diversion, 2002 – 2011

Fast Facts Graph

Carpet America Recovery Effort Partnerships that Inspire 2011 annual report

eNewsLink logo Newslink Archives


Subscribe | Unsubscribe | Contact Us