California lawmakers have approved a bill mandating that carpet stewards achieve a 24 percent recycling rate and discouraging the use of incineration. The legislation will now head to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

Assembly Bill 1158 was passed by the State Senate on Sept. 12 in a vote of 30-10, and the Assembly gave its final go-ahead on Sept. 15 with a 52-22 vote.

“This is a great victory, one that gives California fee payers and stakeholder’s confidence our money will be spent wisely to increase jobs in processing and recycling in California,” Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC), stated in a press release. “We are confident the Governor will see the many benefits, including job creation, and will sign the bill.”

Recycling carpet face fiber, the upper part consumers regularly touch, can yield post-consumer nylon, nylon 6,6, PET/PTT and PP.

The legislation is a reaction to continuing problems in the extended producer responsibility program for carpet. Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), the stewardship group that drafts and carries out carpet collection and recycling plans in the state, notched an 11 percent recycling rate last year, short of its 16 percent goal. State regulators rejected its latest proposed stewardship plan and fined it more than $3 million, alleging that its efforts in prior years fell short of state requirements.

AB 1158 requires a carpet stewardship plan to achieve a 24 percent recycling rate for post-consumer carpet by 2020. CalRecycle is directed to establish a minimum recycling rate starting in 2023. In the Golden State, consumers pay fees when buying new carpet, and CARE manages the money. The bill limits how CARE can use consumer fees, prohibiting it from spending the money to pay fines, fund its legal expenses or support incineration-related disposition. Additionally, the legislation establishes an advisory committee to make recommendations on carpet stewardship plans.

The bill was supported by two carpet manufacturers, Interface and Tandus Centiva (a Tarkett company), which run carpet recycling programs called ReEntry and ReStart, respectively. Their support put them at odds with CARE, which opposed the bill.

“Recycling carpet at end of life is especially difficult in this era of low petroleum prices, making it economically challenging,” Matt Miller, president of Interface Americas, stated in a press release. “As a result, a robust stewardship plan is that much more important today.”

“The proposed legislation aligns with our parent company Tarkett’s sustainability principles, which include taking back product for recycling through our ReStart program,” Len Ferro, president of Tandus Centiva, stated in the release. “Tarkett’s 2020 sustainability goals focus on closing the loop, creating products within a circular economy, and following product principles outlined by Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. These values work in tandem with this legislation.”

Interface and Tandus Centiva told state regulators they will continue their membership in CARE, which is drafting a revised stewardship plan to submit to the state before an Oct. 19 deadline.

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