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Fiber World

Recycling Becomes A Reality For The Carpet Industry

Initiatives to benefit the environment, including waste reduction, reuse of by-products, recycling post-consumer goods and the long-awaited development of a closed loop system that makes it possible to recycle carpet into carpet, were among topics discussed at a recent panel entitled Recycling By Design II Carpet Recovery, the Bottom Line.The panel was co-sponsored by EcoSmart Healthy Properties LLC (ESHP), a leading environmental consulting firm, and the CarpetandRug Institute (CRI). It was the second in an on-going series on carpet recycling.The panel was moderated by Kathryn O. Sellers of the CRI. Other panalists included Steven L. Bradfield, Shaw Contract Flooring; Dr. Edward A. Duffy, AlliedSignal and Evergreen; Heather L. Sheehan, AlliedSignal; and Dr. Howard M. Elder, J and J Industries.Duffy began with a discussion of AlliedSignals alliance with Evergreen in the development of the industrys first real closed-loop system that permits carpet to be recycled into carpet. According to Duffy, Evergreen is currently completing an $80 million nylon 6 recycling plant in Augusta, Ga., that will process 200 million pounds of post-consumer carpet when in opens by the end of 1999.Using a chemical separating process, the facility will produce 100 million pounds of caprolactam, the essxential feedstock to produce Infinity, AlliedSignals new line of recycled nylon product.AlliedSignal will work with carpet retailers and operators of materials recovery facilities to collect material for the plant. This was made possible by the companys development of CarPID, a patented device that permits regional collection centers to separate nylon 6 carpet so that only recyclable material will be transported to the Augusta facility.The money we save by sorting at the source permits AlliedSignal to pay for collected and discarded carpet, Duffy said. This is a win-win situation: Allied recaptures needed materials, clients save on waste hauling fees, and, most importantly, 200 million pounds of carpet will be kept out of landfills.Bradfield discussed Shaws new EcoWorks, a carpet tile with a non-PVC backing with extremely low emissions. It is 40-percent lighter in weight than PVC, yet has equal dimensional stability. It is 100-percent recyclable with type 6 nylon face fiber returned to Allied and the backing is granulated and re-extruded into more EcoWorks backing.Carpet manufacturers must become more proactive, Elder said. We need to talk to clients, suggest they purchase from manufacturers who encourage recycling, use recycled content in their products and get behind municipalities that discourage carpets from being sent to landfills.

September 1999