Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) working on aftermarket potential for polyester
The Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) recently celebrated its first 10 years as an organization. According to CarpetRecovery.org, the joint industry-government nonprofit group is dedicated to advancing market-based solutions to increase the recycling efforts on post-consumer carpet and landfill diversion, as well as encourage the overall industry to step up its sustainability and recycling practices. For clients looking into buying carpet, organizations like CARE ensure that the market has industry standards, including in recycling, for top quality carpet. While the organization has made tremendous steps throughout its first decade of existence, the group believes that more work can be done on creating aftermarket potential for polyester materials.
"There was nothing like CARE when it started, so we had no roadmap," said Werner Braun, the organization's chairman. "We established a brand new industry, one we wanted to create from the start. And that is a market-based solution to keep post-consumer carpet out of landfills."
Over the past decade, the group has spearheaded industry-wide efforts that have diverted more than 2.3 billion pounds of post-consumer carpet from being thrown away, according to FCNews.net. The organization also led a campaign to create a landmark bill in California - AB 2398 - which calls for an after-sale consumer surcharge of 5 cents per square foot on new carpet purchases. The money is then earmarked for programs that incentivize recycling innovation.
The organization counts more than 400 members, comprising various members of the carpet industry, all of whom pay annual dues to CARE. More than a hundred collection sites across the country are also part of the group.
One key area of concern for the group among the industry is the rampant increase of polyester (PET) materials among carpets. As a synthetic material, polyester is extremely affordable to manufacture into carpets. There are currently no viable recycling mechanisms or aftermarket potential for the polymer. CARE has created a PET Opportunities sub team that is focused on not only coming up with recycling solutions for polyester carpets, but also in diminishing its popularity in the market altogether.
"Two years ago, we were talking about nylon 6,6 being a problem and today it is no longer," said Braun. "We figured out how to use it and make it viable. I'd be willing to bet if at next year's [CARE annual conference] meeting we weren't talking about a solution for polyester."