About 4 percent of post-consumer carpet was recycled in 2014, down slightly from the year before, according to an industry report.
The annual report from Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) noted an estimated 124 million pounds of post-consumer carpet was recycled in 2014. That number excludes carpet as alternative fuel, waste-to-energy or feedstock at cement kilns.
The number was down from 2013’s 185 million pounds, which equated to a 5 percent recycling rate that year.
In 2014, of the carpet that was recycled, 49 percent went to make engineered resins, 21 percent went into new carpet, 7 percent went into filler and the remaining 22 percent went into other products.
Robert Peoples, CARE executive director, wrote that the beginning of the West Coast port slowdown in late 2014 and the decline in oil prices undermining recycled plastic values hurt carpet recycling. At the same time, the industry is grappling with the increased use of PET carpet.
CARE estimates sales of PET face fiber carpets have grown from less than 8 percent in 2006 to an estimated 40 percent in 2014 and will hit 50 percent in 2015 or 2016.
Recovered PET in beverage containers may have value, but that’s not the case in carpet, where the plastic is typically sent to landfill or waste-to-energy.
“Currently, there are no significant volume outlets for recycled PET face fiber,” according to the CARE report. “The economics of recycled post-consumer carpet PET vs. bottle flake make it difficult to invest in the necessary equipment and manpower to process PET into a valuable commodity.”
Collector/sorters are selling less and paying more for disposal. Recent comments by some companies have indicated disposal costs have more than tripled in the last couple of years.
Starting this year, CARE helped launch the Voluntary Product Stewardship Program, a two-year, $4.5 million commitment by the carpet industry to support collector/sorter activities in 2015 while PET outlets are developed.