Conflict Over Rug Recycling

Date: June 30, 2022

Source: News Room

The industry-run Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) has recently ousted two of its board members after said members supported carpet recycling bills in New York and Illinois. This may come as a surprise to many familiar with the organization since CARE was founded on the premise of promoting carpet recycling.

The public expulsion of these board members, both of whom represent companies who recycle carpets and carpet materials, gives us a window into the changing politics of CARE. The organization was intended to allow the carpet industry to guide itself towards higher rates of carpet recycling, as well as ensure industry responsibility to the product through its entire lifecycle. However, in recent years they have opposed new legislation that promotes extended producer responsibility, claiming that the fees associated with those policies reduce carpet sales and drive consumers towards other forms of flooring.

Advocates of EPR legislation are now pointing to the removal of CARE's pro-recycling board members as evidence that industry run watch dogs tasked with self-regulating are not as reliable as legislative solutions. While many market based solutions akin to CARE have seen success at promoting green initiatives, CARE has yet to reach its original target of 24% recycled carpets nationwide.

The jury on self-regulation as a solution to industry driven waste issues is certainly still out. However, CARE has yet to prove itself as a capable replacement for government oversight. For example, California which mandates carpet diversion, has a carpet recovery rate of 28%, well above the 9% nationwide average. While these mandates do cause carpet manufacturers to incur recycling fees, it is more likely that stains and smells are behind the brunt of any notable consumer exit.

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