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Carpet tile reuse and recycling present opportunities for FM

Increasing the reuse or recycling of the estimated 58 million individual carpet tiles uplifted each year in the UK is a key focus for Carpet Recycling UK as it strives to divert more material from landfill and to help organisations achieve zero to landfill targets.

In 2011, an estimated 750,000 carpet tiles were reused or recycled, representing a diversion rate of just 1.4%. However, the sector is expanding with 15 CRUK member organisations comprising five reuse organisations and 10 recycling or fuel flock specialists able to tackle this 64,000 tonnes waste stream.

Projects for carpet tile recycling and reuse include DESSO’s nationwide collection and recycling Take Back™ programme and Greenstream Recycling’s national re-use/recycling collection for local social benefit.

"Raising awareness within these sectors is crucial for us in finding useful second lives for carpet tiles and diverting a readily-recyclable resource from landfill. Having made a great start, there is still much more we can do," comments Laurance Bird, Director of Carpet Recycling UK, the industry’s body for carpet recycling and reuse.

Flooring manufacturer DESSO, a CRUK core funder, provides nationwide collection and recycling facilities via its Take Back™ programme, which accepts used tiles from any source, except PVC-backed tiles. Established in 2008, this recycling initiative aims to ensure zero goes to landfill by turning old tiles into new flooring products or using them in other recycling initiatives. Participants receive a Take Back™-certificate as a guarantee that the material was recycled according to Cradle to Cradle® principles.

In the refurbishment of Wales & West Utilities Headquarters in Newport, South Wales, DESSO supplied 3,600m² of new Freestyle carpet tiles, but also recovered the old carpet tiles which were cleaned and reused in other local projects. ALC Contracts, project manager Carillion Property Services and DESSO’s team effort completed the contract a week ahead of schedule.

South Wales-based social enterprise Greenstream Flooring CIC diverted more than 36,500m² of unwanted carpet tiles in 2012, 70% of which was reused by themselves and their national network of community re-sellers.

"Creating a second life for carpet tiles for low-income families/individuals in the UK provides the FM sector with a set of unique quantified social outputs that any other ‘waste option’ can’t beat," says Managing Director Ellen Petts. In the first six months of this year, Greenstream diverted 37,600m² tonnes of carpet tiles from landfill via their South Wales site and recently-launched new branch within London’s Wandsworth Prison.

Laurance concludes: "We are very keen to hear from organisations who wish to recycle their unwanted carpet tiles as we can put them in touch with collection schemes, recyclers and outlets offering alternatives to landfill. Opportunities are growing for re-use, offering potential savings on disposal costs while contributing to organisations’ Green Procurement policies and eco-credentials."

Carpet Recycling UK was formed in 2008 to tackle the 400,000 tonnes of waste carpet arising annually in the UK. Its target is 25% landfill diversion by 2015. Enquiries are welcomed from all types of organisations interested in recycling their waste carpet. For more information, call 0161 440 8325 or visit www.carpetrecyclinguk.com.

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