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Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE)

Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) is a non–profit organization funded and supported by voluntary members of the flooring industry. The goal of CARE is simple: to promote carpet recycling across America. CARE was formed to help attain the goals set forth by the Memorandum of Understanding for Carpet Stewardship (MOU), which involved reducing carpet waste by up to 40%.

The MOU agreement was written and signed in 2002 by various members of the carpet industry as well as federal, local and state representatives. It stipulated that these members would increase the recycling and reuse of old carpet over a ten–year period. Groups that are responsible for the MOU agreement include state governments, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and of course, the carpet industry.

CARE and Carpet Recycling

The carpet industry created CARE in order to meet these objectives within the designated time frame. The group members behind CARE (e.g. members of carpet industry and government) are in charge of analyzing, monitoring and reviewing all progress related to these goals. CARE recognizes the importance of putting systems in place that treat old carpets as a resource rather than waste. Since CARE was formed a little more than 6 years ago, they have been able to successfully divert up to 50 million pounds of carpet from the waste stream.

Of course, recycling carpet once it reaches the end of its lifecycle can be quite challenging. It's estimated that almost 5 billion pounds of carpet is sent to the landfill every year. This is an enormous amount of carpet to ship and properly recycle. While most of the components that make up the carpet (i.e. face fibers; carpet backing) can be recycled, at present only 4% is actually being reused.

Another drawback from a homeowner's perspective is that carpet recycling is not a free service. All of the components that go into the recycling process costs money: transferring the materials, identifying and separating the carpet face fibers, and finally, altering the material into a new product. While there are no set carpet recycling costs, prices usually range between $0.05 to $0.25 per pound of carpet. Post–consumer carpet can be used to make the following products:

  • Roofing shingles
  • Tile backer board
  • Automotive parts
  • Stepping stones
  • Carpet cushion
  • Composite lumber
  • Railroad ties

Despite CARE's best efforts, there is still no routine method in place for recycling carpet. Homeowners who are interested in sending their carpet waste to a reclamation center should contact their local carpet dealer for information. Note that the cost of having carpet recycled depends on region and available recycling systems. For a detailed featuring all of the reclamation centers in the United States, visit CARE (carpetrecovery.org). Those who want to become involved with the recycling carpet business can contact the Executive Director of CARE, Dr. Bob Peoples via the information provided on the CARE site.


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