At the top of the solid waste management hierarchy is source reduction or preventing waste in the first place. Preventing carpet waste starts at early stages with product design and manufacturing where manufacturers play a key role. Later consumers have an important role in selecting the flooring option that best suits the application and then maintaining carpet so it lasts.
Designed for longevity and recyclability
When a product lasts longer, it often is less expensive for the consumer in the long term and it saves natural resources and reduces pollution. In the case of carpet, much of it is designed for long use. However, by making it durable, it is harder to break it down to its component parts. A challenge to designers is to make a product that is durable and also readily recyclable. As consumers, asking for such products encourages their development.
Manufactured following sustainability principles
Many carpet manufacturers have environmental programs that are described at their websites. Some now operate facilities that generate little waste or use renewable energy resources. Compare and consider if:
- Products conform to reputable environmental standards. Some standards cover many aspects of operations, including the topics just below.
- Factories have been certified to conform to ISO 14001.
- Company buildings are LEED certified green buildings.
- Non-renewable energy-use per unit of product is trending downward.
- Waste reduction goals exist and there is good progress toward their achievement underway. Some companies are striving for zero waste.
- Carpet is made with recycled content which offers a variety of environmental benefits and creates more jobs in the United States.
Best product for application
- Consider the type of carpet and if it is well-suited for the particular application. Carpet designed for heavy use will last longer in a location receiving heavy use than carpet designed for less traffic. Carpet tiles offer flexibility in that carpet tiles can be shifted around so that all carpet tiles wear at the same rate, and if some carpet tiles wear faster than others, a small portion of carpet can be replaced instead of the whole carpet.
- Find out if the fiber will be recyclable when it comes time to replace the carpet. Some fibers are more easily recycled.
- Visit the Carpet and Rug Institute website for tips on carpet selection:
- Consider alternatives to owning carpet. Leasing allows for easy return after carpet after its use.
- Learn if there are other flooring options that will last longer, given the application, and better meet performance needs. If the space or flooring will be replaced in a few years for whatever reason, a removable flooring may be more appropriate.
Maintain carpet so it remains attractive and lasts a long time
Visit the Carpet and Rug Institute website for tips:
- This fact sheet by INFORM provides additional information on carpet and preventing carpet waste.