Recycled Content Carpet
Technology Snapshot & Benefits:
Between four and five billion pounds of carpet are replaced every year in the
United States alone, but less than 1% of this is recycled. In other words, 99%
of old carpet is sent to landfills instead of being recycled and made into new
carpet. About 60% of carpet manufactured in the U.S. is made of nylon which can
easily be recycled back into carpet or into raw materials for car parts, etc.
Plastic bottles and textiles can also be reduced to their basic material level
and used to weave new carpets. Despite the variety of materials, recycled
carpet is very similar in look and feel to standard carpet.
Look for the
Carpet and Rug Institute's Green Label Plus on carpets for maximum
energy and environmental savings. The Green Label Plus certifies carpets with
the lowest emissions, lowest VOCs, and highest indoor air quality standards.
Every carpet is tested in a 14-day process for the presence and levels of over
25 chemicals, ensuring that it meets their high standards for homeowner and
Estimated Cost Savings:
Recycled content carpet is comparable in price to standard carpet. While it may
not make a large financial difference, buying recycled carpet is usually little
to no more expensive than other options, making it a very reasonable
alternative. Recycled carpet tends to be more colorfast and resilient, reducing
the impact of spills and stains and helping keep the carpet in better condition,
requiring fewer replacements. The largest saving associated with this type of
carpet is in production and manufacturing energy in addition to the reduction of
the amount of carpet in landfills.
To save money on carpeting, consider purchasing carpet tiles instead of
wall-to-wall. This will reduce costs by minimizing the area that will need to
be replaced should your carpet become damaged. In other words, if you spill
wine, only the square or squares that are damaged need to be replaced instead of
the entire carpet. This reduces your costs as well as minimizes the amount of
carpet being disposed of every year.
Because carpet is fibrous, it can both help and hurt your indoor air quality
depending on how well maintained it is. Carpet tends to collect dust and dirt
and trap them between the woven fibers, pulling them out of the air. In order
to completely clear these particles from the air, it is important to clean your
carpet properly. Vacuum on a regular basis, making sure to cover all areas
thoroughly. Use vacuum extensions to clean corners and hard-to-reach areas as
dust tends to collect even more in these areas. Dust your home before vacuuming
for a thorough top-to-bottom cleaning. Have your carpet deep-cleaned at least
once every 6-12 months. Leave shoes at the door or on a mat to help prevent
excess dirt and dust from being tracked into your home.
Be sure to look for eco-friendly cleaning agents when cleaning your carpet.
Carpet and Rug Institute
both offer seals of approval on cleaning products that use the safest
ingredients and have the least environmental and health impact.
For more information on carpet cleaning, visit the following links:
Illinois EPA's Guide to Carpet Cleaning
How to Clean Your Carpet the Green Way
Installation (Getting It Done):
When purchasing new carpet, ask about recycled content. It is readily available
in many stores across the country, but not all retailers carry it, so you might
have to ask around. Look for carpets made with recycled materials that can be
recycled again and again, minimizing the environmental impact. If possible,
purchase repurposed carpet before looking at recycled as this can help avoid the
minimal energy use associated with recycling. Also, ask for carpet with the
least amount of off-gassing as this can contribute to poor indoor air quality.
Try to purchase carpet with backing made of 100% reclaimed materials as well to
further minimize environmental impact.
Try to only install carpet in rooms where needed for noise reduction or
comfort. Installing alternatives like hardwood, rubber, stone, ceramic tile, or
natural linoleum in areas with high traffic, frequent spills, high moisture
levels, etc. (i.e. kitchen, entryway, bathrooms) can help save on the
maintenance and replacement costs associated with carpet.
Recycled content carpet acts just like regular carpet, so it can be installed
the same way. Check with your installation crew to ensure that they use low VOC
adhesives where applicable. Consider purchasing carpet tiles instead of
wall-to-wall carpeting. This makes it so that you can just replace a small
section of your carpet if it gets messed up instead of having to replace the
entire room, saving money and preventing the production of more carpet.
In addition to purchasing recycled carpet, it is important to take your old
carpet to a recycling facility so it can be processed and reused. To find a
reclamation center near you,
Videos on This Topic:
Recycled Plastic Bottle Carpet
(3:59) - HGTV -
This informative video from HGTV explains what recycled carpet is made of, why
it is beneficial to you and the environment, and shows a behind-the-scenes look
at how factories recycle PET bottles into new carpet for your home.
More Information on This Topic:
Carpet America Recovery Effort - Reclamation Locations
Carpet America Recovery Effort
Community Waste Prevention Toolkit: Carpet Fact Sheet
Carpet and Rug Institute's Green Label Plus
Carpet and Rug Institute's Recycle, Recover, and Reuse
Carpet and Rug Institute - Green Building Standards
Carpet and Rug Institute's VOCs and Mold Facts
EPA - Carpets
Carpet and Rug Institute's Seal of Approval Cleaning Products
Carpet Take-Back: EPR American Style
Green Seal Products
Carpet and Rug Institute's Green Label Plus for Carpet and Adhesives
National Parks Service -
Environmentally Responsible Floor Coverings