By Ken Ryan
In a reprieve for carpet mills and retailers in New York, the state’s recently enacted budget for 2020-21 does not include a provision that would have required all carpet and carpet pad sold in New York to be diverted from landfills and recycled (FCNews, March 2/9). What had troubled carpet mills and industry stakeholders was that there is no current infrastructure in place in New York to recycle post-consumer carpet.
While this decision was met with a sigh of relief by industry members, there is the sense that this is akin to kicking the can down the road, as a similar proposal has been brought up previously. “Thank goodness they removed the carpet and pad portion of the bill,” said Jay Hagan, senior director of national accounts at Mohawk Industries. “However, it is likely to resurface next year.”
In addition to New York, several other states—Illinois, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Vermont, among them—are considering similar legislation as New York. California already has a recycling program in place, but it also has the infrastructure to execute it.
The New York proposal would have required manufacturers of carpets and mattresses to establish a not-for-profit entity called a “stewardship organization” to create and manage programs to take back such products at no direct charge from consumers in New York State for reuse or recycling.
Flooring dealers in New York said recycling is very important but needs to be carried out with a clear plan in mind.
“It needs to be done with input from all the parties directly affected by such a program,” said Steve Bradley, co-owner of Abbey Carpet of Watertown, N.Y. “It could be a nightmare logistically alone, not to mention how they separate the different types of fibers and materials they will be removing. It’s easy to separate plastic from paper, but carpet and pad will be a whole new critter to have to corral with the variety of ingredients used in all these different manmade materials.”
Ben Case, co-owner of The Carpet Collection in Lockport, N.Y., said it is wise to slowly implement a recycling program, noting, “A rapid implementation would be hard to swallow for everybody.”
Retailers believe a hastily implemented carpet recycling program would also endanger a category that is already losing share to hard surfaces—consumer debate between carpet vs. laminate and other rigid flooring products has never been higher—and would create an uneven playing field for New York state retailers vs. dealers in other states. “This type of effort has to be done nationally, if at all, just to keep it a fair market for all retailers and not at the expense of the manufacturers,” Bradley explained. “Why should only the New York State flooring retailers have to bear these costs—as we all know someone is going to have to pay for this and it won’t be the manufacturers alone—in a market where the internet is already gaining a bigger market share of flooring sales every minute of every day.”
The Carpet Collection’s Case added that carpet mills would suffer the most as they would likely lose square footage to hard surface and would have to figure out how to pay for it. “But, they wouldn’t bear all the costs,” he said.