One of my brothers is a big player in the flooring business in Sioux Falls (yeah, I know; that’s not saying a lot!) He sells a lot of carpet, vinyl & wood flooring, and as a result, ends up putting a lot of old carpet, vinyl & flooring in the landfill.
I don’t know if he spends much time thinking about the stuff that ends up getting junked, but having done more than my share of remodeling projects (which included way more trips to the dump than I care to remember) it’s something that’s crossed my mind a few times. Turns out that used carpet is something that’s crossed a few other minds as well; there is a national organization dedicated to keeping old carpet out of landfills — Carpet America Recovery Effort (or CARE).
Right now, carpet recycling is still a very young industry and not very widespread (see map for states that have carpet recyclers.) Like electronics, recycling carpet will cost you… Between 5 and 25 cents per pound in most cases. This is because, like electronics, carpet is a system of several components, and it takes considerable effort to separate those components and put them back into use. Someday it might be economically possible to do it for free, but not just yet.
Some of the things that are made from the recycled carpet include carpet padding, wall covering, landscape materials, plastic pipe products… Anything would be a much better fate for my old carpet than rotting in a landfill for a couple of centuries.