How Can I Properly Dispose Of My Old Carpet and Pad?

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Q: I'm getting new carpet in my house and trying to find out where in my local area I can dispose of my old carpet and pad properly? I live in Macomb, MI, and have over 1300 sq feet of carpet and pad to dispose of.

Sent by Lynette

Editor: Here's what our friends at Green Home Guide have to say:

Answered by Cynthia Phakos of Koffka Phakos Design:

My first step in finding carpet recycling options in your area was to visit the website for CARE, the Carpet America Recovery Effort. This is a joint industry/government venture founded to increase the amount of recycling and reuse of post-consumer carpet and to reduce the amount of waste carpet going to landfills. CARE, which began in 2001, has a useful site for locating recycling facilities. It also has a great deal of general information about carpet recycling.
  • A map of the U.S. on CARE’s website lists Great Lakes Recycling in Roseville, Michigan, which appears to be very close to you, and is the only facility listed in Michigan. I called the company and found that they can recycle your foam carpet pad (if it is foam), but for carpet they mainly handle commercial recycling.
  • I was then able to find a contact person on the CARE site for the carpet recycling division, Steve Rosen. He explained that they can only recycle certain kinds of carpet, hence I believe the distinction between residential and commercial carpet, but said that if you were to send a 2" x 2" sample of the carpet and the pad he would send it to the testing lab and let you know if they can recycle it. You can send the sample with your contact information to: Steve Rosen, Great Lakes Recycling, 30821 Groesbeck Highway, Roseville, MI, 48066.
  • I also Googled “carpet recycling Michigan” and got the website for Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment. I spoke to a person in the recycling division, whose first suggestion was to speak to the vendor of the carpet that you are purchasing to see if they have any recycling options.
Recycling of carpet is most often done by carpet manufacturers, so if there are any carpet manufacturers in your area, you might try contacting them.
  • When it comes to recycling, carpet pads are much easier to recycle, as they are typically made of a single material.
  • Carpet, on the other hand, is composed of a face fiber and backing. The face fiber could be wool, nylon, polyester, olefin or a blend of materials. The backing material for a residential carpet is typically a latex product, and for a commercial carpet is typically polyvinyl chloride, which is easier to recycle. Nylon 6 and 6.6 are face fibers that are more easily recycled than olefin or polypropylene, which are also recyclable. Polyester carpets are not recyclable at this time.
Recycling carpet into backing is a form of downcycling, as the recycled product is in a degraded state from the original fiber. Carpet manufacturers who practice zero waste in their recycling process will also burn the carpet waste as a way of generating electricity. As there becomes a greater focus on the environmental impact of a product, carpet manufacturers are developing new products and materials that make recycling possible.

(Image: Flickr member Alex Kehr licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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