California carpet recycling program surpasses goals

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california carpet recyclingDalton—At a time of immense strain on recycling efforts across the country, carpet recycling saw significant progress in California in 2021, according to the just-released California Carpet Stewardship Program 2021 Annual Report. In 2021, the program achieved an all-time annual high Recycling Rate of 27.9%, exceeding the 26% goal set in its Five-Year Plan.

Seventy six percent of all the carpet collected in California in 2021 was recycled into useful new products, exceeding the program’s goal of 60%, according to CARE. This percentage, called the Yield, has grown dramatically over the life of the program from just 28% 10 years ago, thanks to expanded processing capacity, growing markets for post-consumer carpet materials and technological advances.

2021 was another year of major progress in the face of multiple challenges,” said Bob Peoples, CARE executive director. “I credit the hard work of the recyclers, retailers, installers and drop-off site staff; over the years we have built a robust system for collecting and recycling carpet that is unequaled anywhere. This is the first time the Program has met the ambitious goals set forth in the Five-Year Plan and we are on track to continue this amazing progress.”

According to the California Carpet Stewardship Program’s 2021 Annual Report:

  • 88.5 million pounds of post-consumer carpet was collected across the state.
  • 67 million pounds of recycled output was produced.
  • Over 81 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions (MTC02E) was saved.
  • $23.1 million in subsidies was paid to support collectors, processors and manufacturers of recycled carpet material.
  • Over $1.5 million in grant funding was invested in 2021. Since 2017, CARE has paid over $9.5 million to grow carpet recycling via grants for capital improvement, product testing and collection expansion.

Collection of carpet is a vital part of the recycling process, according to CARE. By the end of 2021, there were 94 CARE-sponsored public drop-off sites with all 58 counties having at least one operational program-sponsored public drop-off site. This is an increase of more than 200% from 44 public drop-off sites in 2017.

Through subsidies, grants and technical assistance, CARE supports increased collection and processing of carpet into products containing recycled carpet material. Twenty seven vendors currently incorporate carpet in at least 103 products, including 10 vendors in California. These products have industrial and retail applications, such as automotive plastic components, rubber transition mats, building materials and absorbency products.

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