Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shaw Industries supports law for non-recyclable carpet

By Bill Sheehan, Executive Director

I spent a year during 2011-2012 as an NGO representative in the carpet industry dialogue on increasing carpet recycling.  The dialogue broke down because the industry wanted governments to agree to voluntary recycling goals (which had failed before) but they refused to offer any financing mechanism to build the needed recycling infrastructure.  The industry strenuously opposed EPR for carpet which provides such financing in California, which has the nation's only carpet EPR law.

This year Shaw Industries, the largest carpet manufacturer in the world, came out in support of a container deposit bill in Maryland (HB 1085, which subsequently died). 

Interesting.  It turns out that carpet made from PET plastic is the fastest-growing segment of the carpet industry.  They get PET plastic from soda and water bottles collected in states with bottle bills, which provide clean material.

The problem is that carpet made from PET plastic is generally non-recyclable (there are a few small volume applications). And the increasing trend towards PET carpet threatens to undermine the existing carpet recycling infrastructure in the US, which is based on recyclable nylon carpet.  

It is evident that a major reason the carpet industry opposes EPR measures for their products is that they are more interested in using cheaper, non-recyclable PET feedstock than in recycling their carpet. So Shaw Industries supports government intervention to ensure a supply of non-recyclable feedstock, while opposing EPR laws to finance carpet recycling.  

It looks like the only thing that will change this dynamic is more state laws like California's. For a model bill, see this link.

PHOTO: rentitgreen.blogspot.com 

1 comment:

  1. This is a really interesting post, Bill. First because it shows clearly that the deposit system is the way the manufacturing/recycling industry would organize collection. I once heard that even Kim Jeffreys of Nestle let slip a speculation about using deposits to get access to rePet -- until he had his knuckled rapped and switched to the conventional waste management approach for the speciously named "Recycling Reinvented." (Dan Knapp would love this: who said it needed reinventing??)

    The interesting question for carpet makers when they see the handwriting on the wall for carpet EPR is: how can they make a carpet that won't have to be wasted?


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