New use for your old shag pile?

Carpet Recycling UK, an organisation set up to increase the recycling of carpet in the UK, is working with Derbyshire-based composters Vital Earth to see if wool-fibre carpet can be composted successfully.

 In a separate trial, research consultancy ADAS is investigating the risks that compost made from carpet fibres could pose if it is reapplied to land. The firm was commissioned to do the trial by Carpet Recycling UK member’s, Spruce Carpets.

Laurance Bird, a founder of Carpet Recycling UK, which was set up last year, said he believed that wool-based carpets, which makes up about 35% of carpet material from the domestic waste stream, could be diverted from landfill through composting.

He also said the compost produced from woollen carpets could also be a good quality fertiliser when applied to land.

Mr Bird said that Carpet Recycling UK had been approached by a number of organics recyclers which were interested in running their own trials using carpet as a feedstock.
However, he explained that there were difficulties with recycling carpet particularly with the synthetic non-biodegradable backing materials which are generally used alongside the wool fibres.

He said: "ADAS is doing research to see how the synthetic backing to carpet affects land. The Environment Agency does not worry about the wool aspect because wool is biodegradable but the synthetic backing is not and it needs to be demonstrated that the synthetic part is not harmful to the environment."

Jeremy Jacobs, managing director of AFOR, said that AFOR was supporting the trials, and that if the final results were positive, would look into modifying the PAS 100 accreditation in order to allow operators which use carpet as a feedstock to achieve the standard. Currently carpet is not listed as a suitable feedstock material in the criteria for achieving PAS 100.

He added: "We have to have an open mind about these things and base decisions on scientific evidence."

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