There’s nothing better than fresh, new flooring underfoot. But once your new flooring is down, what should happen to all of your old carpet? Before you send it off to retirement in a landfill, consider recycling it!
Did you know that nearly 5 billion pounds of old carpet get tossed into landfills each year? That’s happening over 90% of the time! While this might seem innocuous at first, take a closer look at all the funky stuff that carpeting contains.
Standard carpeting is made using a wide variety of harsh – and often toxic – chemicals, including polypropylene and polyvinylchloride. Most commercially produced carpet is made of four major components, including a face fiber (usually nylon), a primary and secondary backing joined by SBR latex and calcium carbonate. While these elements aren’t particularly harmful, they’re certainly not what we want showing up in our local water supply or coming up as vapor through the ground. Despite stringent regulations, landfills are notorious for eventually spilling over and contaminating local ground water.
While landfill seepage is certainly the worst-case scenario, the fact is that our society creates far too much waste. Just think about it! If we’re throwing out 5 billion pounds of old carpet each year, that’s taking up a lot of space somewhere!
While you might not have any use for your old carpet, you should care where it ends up. The most responsible and practical solution for old carpet is to recycle or reuse it in some way. Many people don’t realize that most components in carpet are very easy to recycle, so it’s very unfortunate that only 10% of discarded carpet ever gets reused.
There are a few routes you can take to make sure that your carpet doesn’t end up rotting in a landfill:
If you’ve just swapped out your carpet for a different type of flooring, and the carpet is still in good shape, you could consider donating it. There are a number of non-profit organizations that would be happy to reuse old carpet, and in some cases, you may even be able to get a tax-deductible receipt for your donation.
Think carefully before tossing an unneeded carpet. If it’s still in good shape, could you use it elsewhere? Maybe you have an older carpet that could be replaced. Rather than buying new carpet eventually (and throwing out yet more carpet), why not reuse the carpet you have – and recycle the carpet that’s ready for retirement?
Another way to reuse your old carpet is to list it on Craigslist or some other local site. There are many folks looking for affordable ways to make home improvements, and your carpet might be just the thing they’re looking for.
There are a number of companies that specialize in repurposed carpet tiles. Why expend the energy for recycling if the carpet is still in good shape? If you think your carpet can be reused, but you don’t need it anymore, look into local repurposing companies and see if they’ll come and pick it up. Chances are they’ll be able to clean it up and put it back to good use.
If your old carpet tiles are too well-used and not worth repurposing, get in touch with a recycling company. Different companies have different policies about what they can/can’t recycle, but more and more are accepting ALL used carpet – regardless of type or construction.
Recycling or reusing carpet takes a little extra effort, but it’s well worth it. Your little efforts will add up, and landfills will be a little lighter thanks to you!