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Carpet Recycling UK conference inspires ‘design for recycling’

Inspiration for manufacturers to design new carpet products for recycling or reuse at end of life was a key theme at Carpet Recycling UK’s sixth Annual Conference, held in Birmingham in June.

Record attendances for the 2014 event saw delegates relishing networking opportunities at the pre-conference dinner, sponsored for the third year running by Invista, manufacturers of ANTRON® Carpet Fibres, followed by the conference itself focussing on resources for the Circular Economy.

Almost 100 delegates attended from a wide range of different sectors, including representatives from the waste management and retail sectors, plus contractors and those interested in becoming carpet recyclers.

For the first time, CRUK’s annual conference featured an awards ceremony recognising the innovation and achievements of members, both individuals and organisations, who have made important contributions to the sector. There were 18 shortlisted companies across four categories. The entries were judged by a panel of independent judges including Richard Catt, CEO of the CFA and Ray Georgeson of the Resource Association.

Winners and Highly Commended runners-up in four categories were:
Innovation in Recycling – Desso Ltd (winner) and Anglo Recycling Technology.
Take Back Partner of the Year – Anglo Recycling Technology (winner) and Abingdon Flooring.
Re-Use Member of the Year – Greenstream Flooring CIC (winner) and Carpet Tile Recycling
Recycling Champion – Tony Winder, owner of Winder Carpets Ltd (winner) and Mike Collins, Operations Manager at Abingdon Flooring.
Outstanding Achievement – Laurance Bird.

“Given the quality of nominations was so high, this made choosing the winners a difficult task for our judges,” commented CRUK Director Laurance Bird.

“Having exceeded our 25% landfill diversion target two years early, it was the right time to celebrate the achievements of those who have made real advancements in carpet recycling and re-use. CRUK is now well-established enough to host an annual awards ceremony. Congratulations to everyone!”

Keen interest was shown in presentations from CRUK manufacturing members Abingdon Flooring, Forbo (material recovery) and Milliken (sustainability progress) who shared their expertise and achievements to date in increasing the sustainability of their products.

“We hope the extent of both these companies’ successes will inspire others to do more in terms of designing products that can be more readily recycled or reused at end of life,” continued Laurance. “To achieve our next target of diverting 60% carpet waste from landfill by 2020, we need to look at how we design the sustainable products of the future and how easily they can be recycled.”

This message was also the theme of the RSA’s (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) Sophie Thomas whose talk on ‘Redesigning Products and Systems for the Circular Economy’ explored how new approaches to sustainability issues could improve value and resource recovery from the flooring sector.

Delegates also heard from CRUK’s newest member, The John Lewis Partnership whose Mike Walters, Group Manager for Waste and Water Resource, gave an update on the national roll-out of the department store’s carpet off-cuts recycling scheme with CRUK member Anglo Recycling. What started out as a trial has gained popularity and momentum with retailers and it is now being expanded nationwide.

Other sessions examined technological developments, recycling and collection schemes and insights from several recyclers into their experiences and successes, along with talks on a host of manufacturing and sustainability issues within the waste hierarchy. The international speaker line-up included Bob Peoples, Executive Director of the US-based Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE).

Laurance added: “As a must-attend event for the carpet industry, our annual conference is welcomed as a valuable forum for sharing ideas, innovation and successes. By stimulating debate, we hope to inspire others with the aim of helping to drive the work of the wider carpet recycling network ever forward.

“Having made great strides towards encouraging treatment of carpet waste as a resource rather than a waste material destined for landfill, challenges still lie ahead. Designing carpets with recycling in mind is the next big step.”

Since its 2008 formation, CRUK has been pivotal in transforming attitudes to the 400,000 tonnes of carpet waste that arise annually in the UK.

Carpet Recycling UK welcomes enquiries from organisations interested in finding new outlets for waste carpet.

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