Empire Launches Carpet Recycling Program

Every year, four billion pounds, or 800 million square yards, of carpet ends up in landfills. The amount of carpet ending up in landfills is predicted to likely double every five years. Enter the company, Empire Today (also known as Empire Carpet) which launched a recycling program during the first quarter of this year, which includes participating in the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE).

Empire partners with Carpet Landfill Elimination and Recycling (CLEAR) so that 100 percent of the carpet and padding removed by its residential and commercial installers is recycled. The company’s stated goal is to become the “leading retail floor covering recycler” in the U.S.

For every 10 million pounds of carpet and padding Empire recycles, 50,000 cubic yards of landfill space is saved, which is equivalent to avoiding 79,564,014 pounds of, or removing 7,812 cars off the road. Since launching the program, which operates in over 25 of Empire’s service areas, over six million pounds of carpet and padding have been recycled.

“We continually strive to make a positive impact on the communities we live in and service each and every day,” said Steve Silvers, chief executive officer for Empire Today. “Our goal is to be a leading retail floor covering recycler in the United States, moving millions of pounds of carpet and padding from landfills to recycling facilities.”

Empire is not the first company to start a carpet recycling program. Interface first started a recycling program in 1994. Called ReEntry, the carpet reclamation program by 2002 had saved over three million pounds of carpet from landfills.

California has the first carpet recycling law

Then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the first product stewardship bill (AB 2398) into law that specifically addresses carpet. Starting July 1, 2011, a $.05 per square yard stewardship assessment was added to the sale of all carpet sold or shipped in California. The revenue generated will be used to incentivize carpet recycling by rewarding companies who recycle carpet and produce products made from post-consumer carpet.

Over 400 million pounds of carpet end up in California landfills every year, and since carpet is made of petroleum-based material, that amount represents 39 million gallons of oil.

CARE administers the carpet product stewardship program. “CARE has developed communications materials for consumers, such as signs, store placards and informational flyers,” said Georgina Sikorski, Executive Director of CARE.

“These materials are being distributed and will be in stores by July 1,” Sikorski said. “As more new carpet customers ask to have their old carpet recycled instead of being landfilled, retailers are finding ways to make that happen.”

Photo: Flickr user, jeffk

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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