If carpet is the material of choice for your application, proper maintenance can extend its life. CRI recommends commercial areas with high traffic to be vacuumed daily, with equipment that has powerful suction and an enclosed HEPA filtration bag. Lighter-traffic commercial areas should be vacuumed every 2-3 days. Most carpets should be extraction cleaned every 6 – 12 months, preferably by hot water or steam, based on manufacturer specifications.
Old carpet can be recycled via numerous processes, depending upon the content. Closed-loop recycling is a process whereby nylon is chemically broken down and reprocessed as new carpet fiber. Fiberizing involves harvesting carpet fibers and converting them to backing, padding and matting, and mechanically recycle in order to melt the fiber. This down cycles it for use in molded-machine, automotive, building or landscaping applications.
Many manufacturers, such as Interface, Mohawk, Shaw and Blue Ridge have carpet limited reclamation projects where they will remove old carpet for recycling. At this time, however, only a small percentage of carpet is recycled. According to the Carpet America Recovery Effort, 5,000,000 pounds of carpet was discarded in 2006, with only 4.6% of it being diverted from landfills by recycling.
There are many simple steps you can take to make your floors “greener.”
Choosing renewable resilient flooring is an excellent option, but requires a larger initial investment, as well as more cleaning time. Carpet or carpet tiles from eco-friendly manufacturers, with recycled content and low VOC adhesives, is another option. If carpet is the right choice, proper maintenance to extend its life cycle is a must, and selecting carpet that has an end of life recycling program is a good way to keep old carpet out of the landfill.