The power of the people must come into play for carpet recycling effort to bump to the next level, outgoing director says
There are now more than 100 carpet recycling collection companies in the United States, and it’s easy to find out if there’s one near you.
Just ask Georgina Sikorski. At the time she took charge of the Carpet America Recycling Effort (CARE) in 2009, CARE had diverted 1 billion pounds of carpet from landfills. Today, that number is more than 2 billion, and although Sikorski is leaving her post in April, she says that number will keep going up – if you do your part.
“People can quickly determine if there is a collector in their region by going to the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) map, which has contact information for the over 100 Certified CARE Collectors,” Sikorski, says.
“Also, if consumers would ask their retailer or installer to recycle their carpet when it gets replaced, that would make a great difference.”
During Sikorski’s tenure, California even has passed the first legislation – AB 2398 — to ensure discarded carpet is reused or recycled. But some areas of the country have been slow to get the word out.
Tell the people, and they will recycle
“We do our best to advertise that we recycle carpet in all of our TV and print ads,” says Ken Weisbacher, president of KW Flooring, with locations throughout southwest Ohio, including Carpetland Carpet One Floor & Home and Buddy’s Flooring America. The
companies run an efficient carpet recycling program, using the services of two recycling collectors, one of which will take carpet from consumers free of charge.
“If other flooring companies also advertised that they recycle carpet, the public would become more aware that it is available,” Weisbacher says.
In Indianapolis, IN, Kruse Carpet Recycling issues certificates to flooring retailers, showing the number of pounds they recycle, says Greg Hill, owner of Brothers Floor Covering.
“It seems small, but taking this and putting it into a picture frame and hanging it up in our carpet area has helped bring awareness to the recycling efforts,” Hill says.” I don’t think that a lot of people really think about what will become of the carpet when they are paying someone else to remove it, so I would say consumer awareness is low. We are making a point of telling customers in our proposals that we are removing existing carpet and pad and hauling it away to recycle it.”
Effort also hinges on demand for new recycled products
But knowledge that carpet can be recycled is step one. To bump this effort to the next level, people also need to demand more products that are made from recycled carpet, Sikorski says. The companies that receive sorted carpet from collectors have limits on what they can take that are set by the amount of new materials to be made – ranging from new carpet to automotive casings and parts.
“Our biggest challenge is finding more market outlets for post-consumer carpet,” Sikorski says. “Our CARE members have the knowledge, expertise and business acumen to recycle more carpet, when the market demand for post-consumer carpet increases.”
CARE began in 2002 under the leadership of Bob Peoples and with zero pounds of recycled carpet. This effort reached 1 billion pounds by the time Sikorski became executive director. Under Sikorski’s leadership, recycled carpet doubled and CARE membership grew from about 50 to more than 400 members.
“I have worked very hard for the past three years for this wonderful organization,” Sikorski says. “I feel it is a good time to hand over the reins to another person, who can take CARE to the next level of achievement.”
“Ms. Sikorski will be missed,” says Werner Braun, chairman of the CARE Board of Directors, which is forming a search committee to identify candidates for the job.
The next executive director should be able “to hit the ground running” because of the experienced input he or she will have from CARE’s experienced board, staff and members, Sikorski says.
But the rest of us have a critical role to play, too. ©
– Nancy Kibbee is editor at www.naturalinteriors.com