A new carpet recycling factory is the UK’s first and “key” to reducing carbon emissions in the flooring industry, its founder said.
Innovate Recycle’s factory in Northampton aims to repurpose up to 20,000 tonnes of waste carpet a year.
Most carpets in the UK are made from plastic and other materials which cannot be easily recycled.
Joseph Eccleston said his vision was to “get carpet into carpet again” and divert waste away from landfill.
It was estimated that only 2% of the UK’s 500,000 tonnes of annual carpet waste was currently recycled, with that material then either sent to be processed overseas or remade into carpets if the original carpet was made from easier-to-recycle wool.
Currently, carpet waste that is not recycled is either sent to landfill or burnt in waste incinerators.
Mr Eccleston said he was inspired to tackle the issue after working in the flooring industry as a retailer and noticing the large amount of waste.
“Seeing is believing. Having this facility in Northampton is quite key to getting people to come and see what we’re doing, how we recycle carpet and the impact that they can have,” he said.
The factory cost about £10m to set up and officially opened at the Lodge Farm Industrial Estate in Duston in April.
The factory accepts waste material which it then sorts and segregates.
A line of machines deconstructs polypropylene plastic from the backing layer of carpets, before creating pellets that can be used in new carpets, car body bumpers and storage containers.
Martin Harris, chief executive of retailer Tapi Carpets, said finding solutions to the industry’s waste issue was an “important topic that needs dealing with”.
The company has been working in partnership with Innovate Recycle and its store in Milton Keynes is the first in the country to supply sorted waste to the recycling specialists.
Mr Harris said the waste issue “needs dealing with” and that the initiative must win the “hearts and minds” of the rest of the industry.
Phil Gammidge, from waste management company Biffa, which also supplies carpet waste to Innovate Recycle, said: “It [carpet] is a big, bulky, challenging material to handle.
“Landfill is filling up, so therefore we need to find solutions to recycle materials where we can.”
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