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Carpet Recycling UK leading the industry on sustainability

Significant support from Carpet Recycling UK’s core funders has been crucial in the industry’s achievement of diverting rising volumes of waste carpet from landfill within the last decade. Last year’s 28% landfill diversion rate saw waste carpet given a ‘second life’ in various applications.

Recognising the commitment and contribution from core funders and members, CRUK’s Director Laurance Bird thanked their financial supporters for ‘providing the vital impetus to the recycling and landfill diversion cause’.

CRUK’s core funders are Cormar Carpets, Lifestyle Floors/Headlam, Desso, Ege, Milliken, Balsan and Marlings.

“Without their unstinting support, the industry would not be where it is today; that is keeping raw materials out of landfill and in the supply chain,” he says. “With their help, we have already surpassed our first major milestone of 25% diversion from landfill by 2015. So we and the environment have a lot to thank them for!”

Since joining CRUK, Cormar Carpets has focused on carpet waste streams from their manufacturing processes. “What we originally classified as waste can now be considered a valued raw material,” comments Robert Barker, Cormar’s Finance Director. “We’re seeing more value as the carpet waste market develops, due to CRUK’s active work; plus our customers’ businesses are now beginning to benefit too.”

Keith Hall, Technical Manager at Desso says: “Desso are proud to have been associated with CRUK since the organisation was founded over five years ago and remain committed as a core funder. Our association and exchange of expertise and ideas has been central to our successful carpet tile Take Back™ programme in the UK. This has reflected our strong growth in the commercial business in a very positive way and is fully integrated into our long term Cradle to Cradle® objectives.”

Kate Burnett, Milliken’s Strategic Marketing Manager comments: “Milliken has long understood that ethical behaviour is not just the right thing to do, it is key to sustainable growth. That’s why Milliken has been proud to support CRUK from the outset to ensure the development of viable practical recycling solutions that meet our clients’ needs and improve the environmental footprint of our industry.”

Laurance estimates their membership currently covers around 35% of the carpet supplied to the UK market, but so much more could be achieved with greater industry support and ‘the whole supply chain focusing on helping to avoid landfilling carpet and create value by recycling’.

CRUK’s activities helped the UK carpet manufacturers to achieve zero waste to landfill in 2012. It’s a fantastic achievement that needs more support to maintain this momentum.

Initial success with recycling their edge trims and offcuts prompted CRUK’s core funders to find outlets for clean manufacturing waste and achieve zero production waste. Aided by CRUK, they sought outlets for post-installation waste followed by post-consumer material.

Increasingly local authorities, contractors and retailers are able to find outlets for their carpets in reuse, recycling or energy recovery; and in many cases even saving money on disposal costs.

Next steps, according to Laurance, are to encourage manufacturers to assist in recovery of clean installation offcuts using their logistics networks and to advise customers on opportunities for recycling offcuts, as well as old carpets. More work is needed to find higher-value outlets.

Laurance adds: “Our work to date means we can now effectively offer the whole ‘circular’ package. Manufacturers are helping their customers with their clients’ waste carpet, while examining how their own products can be improved with sustainability in mind. With valued support from our core funders and members, we continue to do a great job but more support is critical. Will you join us?”

Landfill diversion of carpets has increased from 2% to 28% in seven years; the ultimate goal set by CRUK is 60% landfill diversion by 2020. CRUK welcomes enquiries from all types of organisations interested in finding new outlets for their waste carpet.

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