New topics that generated a buzz among the 100 delegates at the Carpet Recycling UK (CRUK) Conference held in Birmingham, U.K., in July included the conversion of synthetic carpet waste to oil and electricity, plus the creation of clean energy and power through gasification and pyrolysis techniques. The event attracted representatives from across the supply chain, including carpet manufacturers, recycling companies and organizations seeking outlets for their carpet waste.
The program at this year’s conference covered new developments from carpet recyclers in Austria, Italy, Germany and America as well as the U.K. The event also demonstrated an increase in higher grade and higher value re-use and recycling options.
Three parallel ‘breakout’ sessions included a talk from Laszlo Kondor, managing director of Austria-based KEMIA Handels und Projektierungs GmbH. He highlighted two Hungarian plants that use a thermocatalytic conversion process to produce up to 6,500 metric tons of heavy oil annually from mixed plastic and rubber wastes. A trial using 500 kilograms of synthetic carpet waste, mainly polypropylene, showed this process could be successful using only carpet waste.
Generating electricity from carpet waste was another interesting outlet development introduced by John Chalfin and Mark Homer of WREL (Worldwide Recycling Equipment Ltd). The company’s modular system is capable of generating 1 megawatt per hour from 25 metric tons of carpet waste per day – enough to power around 1,000 homes.
Further sessions included Closing the Loop – Designing for the Future, which looked at ways products are designed to preserve increasingly limited resources, how the Cradle to Cradle design concept works and Jan Ladefoged Jenson of Danish carpet manufacturer egetaepper a/s on the company’s environmental approach to manufacturing processes.
“Innovation and the improvements we are making in finding inventive outlets, particularly for polypropylene (PP) carpet fibers, came through strongly at this year’s event, and this is continuing to inspire the sector to even greater achievements,” said Laurance Bird, director of CRUK, the industry-backed association for recycling and reusing waste carpet.
“Novel outlet developments, such as extracting oil from waste carpets, generated a lot of interest and discussion on the day,” he added. “It was also clear that a lot more manufacturers are making sustainability, re-use and recycling a central part of their brand positioning in the market and that these are essential parts of their operating strategies. Membership of CRUK is a very helpful element of those strategies.”
Currently 16.5 percent of the 400,000 metric ton of carpet waste generated each year in the U.K. is recycled. Of the 65,700 metric tons diverted from landfill in 2011, 49.5 percent was recycled and 50.5 percent was fed into energy from waste schemes.
“We have made tremendous progress from the 2 percent diversion rate in 2007. However, that still leaves us with 83.5 percent to go at,” added Laurance. “Our target of 25 percent diversion from landfill is achievable and, judging from the positive feedback, there is a lot of confidence and entrepreneurial spirit willing to turn waste carpet into a new raw material resource.”
“Our priorities include developing higher value outlets for carpet waste, designing carpets that can be recycled in the future and developing efficient collection strategies,” said Jane Gardner, of resource recovery specialists Axion Consulting, which manages Carpet Recycling UK.
She added, “Through sharing some exciting achievements, expertise and knowledge, CRUK has taken another step forward towards its goals. We’ve had some great feedback from delegates who particularly appreciated the opportunities for networking and to learn more about developments in carpet recycling generally.”
More information about Carpet Recycling UK is available at www.carpetrecyclinguk.com.