CARPET DISPOSAL AND RECYCLING

The definition and use of the term "recycling" is often misleading. The traditional use of the word encompasses several meanings such as "reuse", "refurbish", "reclamation", "restoration" and "recycle".  One additional term is dubbed "downcycling" because it actually degrades the quality of the nylon, resulting in inferior end products.

Down-cycling is the common method of recycling all carpet fibers made with nylon type 6,6. Down-cycled nylon 6,6 is dumped into our landfills because it degrades over time to the degree where it can no longer be recycled. However, our re-dyeing process can revive nylon 6.6 so that it doesn't degrade.

Whether by our re-dyeing process, or the recycling process developed in a joint venture by Mohawk® and Honeywell®, called Infinity®, carpet made of nylon 6 can be used forever and will never wind up in a landfill. Nylon 6 can be recycled or redyed to the point where it is almost like new carpet every time. Only our process can also keep nylon 6.6 from degrading and out of the landfills.

While some companies have put forth admirable efforts to recycle or reclaim carpet waste, it has hardly made a dent in the millions and billions of carpet that is ultimately thrown into our landfills. Further, the carpet waste if reclaimed by many of these recycling systems is predominantly converted into products other than carpet. When this carpet waste is converted into carpet, the secondary carpet cannot be converted into carpet a third time and ultimately soon winds up in the landfill anyway.

Olefin: Specifically, polypropylene (olefin) and polyester carpet or blends which have these fiber components, cannot be recycled into carpet at all. None of these fibers are re-dyeable, so even we can't help restore these carpets. And, attempts at recycling or reclamation of these fibers have proven to be a counterproductive drain on our energy resources as well as an overall cost prohibitive misadventure.

It should be noted that the backing composition of these carpets are the bulk of the weight of this total carpet product. These finished carpet fibers when manufactured are very "air blown" to give a false appearance of fullness and density. In the case of "berber" carpet made of these fibers, the the traffic weight easily crushes and mats. None of these products should ever be installed in a residential property.

P.E.T.: Plastic bottles when converted into carpet fibers are a form of recycling. But the result is very unfavorable if all the facts are known. For one thing, the end product is of lesser quality. For another, even the original carpet fiber produced, called "P.E.T.", is very inferior carpet.

Some of the problems with P.E.T. are that it has a very low flash point (a fire hazard - it burns quickly and easily at fairly low heat temperatures), it crushes and mats easily, if an oil based food or chemical is spilled or tracked onto this type of carpet,  the stain becomes permanent. More importantly it actually creates more waste because this type of fiber can never be made into carpet again.

Reclamation: Another method, advertised as the easiest and cheapest way to "recycle"  carpet is not really a recycling process at all, but rather a reclamation or reuse process. In this method old carpet is removed from the property, cleaned and repaired at a plant and then returned and reinstalled.

This process is only available to commercial grade carpet tiles and requires the property floor to be without carpet for a period of time. This carpet is never reprocessed or re-manufactured; it's simply a super cleaning in an attempt to make the old carpet look new. Results are good in some cases but are marginally acceptable in most. This method never resolves the discoloration,  fading problems, stubborn stains or "matching" the color of one tile to another when reinstalled.

One company has made an effort to add re-dyeing to the process at the plant and sometimes even adding a surface pattern to hide the non-removable flaws. Almost exclusively marketed to large upscale commercial property owners, most of us will never be potential customers of this carpet product. Again pattern and color matching are often disappointing and choices of color and pattern are limiting factors for most jobs. Finally, the real problem in our opinion is that the seller of the carpet happens to be the same company that sells this reclamation method to the carpet owner. True it does increase the life cycle span of the original carpet but the original warranty is usually for 20 years of "wear". The seller safely denies all claims and liability of "wear" because this carpet by its very nature (nylon) won't wear out. Of course, their warranty protects them, not the buyer. The seller holds no responsibility for anything other than fiber loss (true carpet wear). And, the carpet truly isn't "worn out".

However, in the 3rd to 7th year depending on the property traffic, this type of carpet exhibits an unsightly appearance from discoloration caused by the traditional carpet culprits - everyday use. The seller often places the blame on the carpet's improper cleaning care. So the seller offers to recycle the carpet with this method at about half the cost of new carpet.  Instead of losing a customer they convince the customer that this is the only option to untimely and unexpected carpet replacement costs. In the end the customer accepts all fault for the ugly carpet and the shortened life cycle span. The poor appearance is disconnected from the performance functionality of the carpet in the customer's eye. The seller is then perceived as saving them from full replacement cost. In the end the customer is actually "buying" his own carpet back and creating a profit for the seller for their "recycling" service in the process.

Learn as many carpet terms and definitions as possible before shopping for new carpet. Always examine the carpet fiber content label well before you buy carpet. Make sure the carpet is not from recycled non-nylon or "unknown" fibers in any percentage. If a blend, be sure the exact percentage of each fiber used is disclosed before you decide. Insist that the fiber content, the manufacture's name, the carpet model and color identity number be clearly written on your invoice before you pay for it. Always get and read thoroughly a complete warranty before you buy any carpet. Get in writing the exact path of whom to contact and who is responsible if a problem occurs. Don't fall for "mill direct" selling tactics. The only way to get mill direct pricing is to drive to Georgia and go into the mills to buy the carpet.

Most "carpet recycling efforts have resulted in a significant loss of nylon fiber quality and small environmental gains".

We have developed two programs as part of our effort to contribute to the global environmental protection. The first one is our EcoCycle program and the second is our ProCycle plan.


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