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Carpets must often be replaced, meaning that old carpet will need to be disposed of. Carpet production results in emissions from manufacturing, resource depletion, and landfill waste.  Wisely choosing and maintaining household carpet will decrease the negative environmental impact.

Purchase carpet tiles instead of rolls.  Tiles allow for easier replacement of spot stains and lead to longer overall life of the carpet.

Choose a carpet type, fiber, and construction that is appropriate to its location.  A higher quality, denser carpet should be used for high traffic areas.

Choose backing that is made from a higher percent of recycled content. 

The most common type of carpet consists of nearly 99 percent synthetic fibers. Knowing the characteristics of each type of fiber will increase the life of the product and decrease household waste.

Nylon is a high performance material and the most durable synthetic fiber. Nylon is used in over 65 percent of carpets sold in the United States.  Nylon fibers are a high demand recyclable product due to their elasticity and strength.

Polypropylene is also a popular choice among carpet manufacturers.  Polypropylene is relatively inexpensive, has superior resistance to stains, and is extremely colorfast.

PET fibers are naturally stain resistant and provide richer, brighter color options than nylon.  PET can be produced with a percentage of recycled content.

Wool provides a more luxurious feel and bind than synthetic fibers.  Wool is naturally resistant to soiling, crushing, and staining, in addition to being fire resistant.

Acrylics are intended to look and feel like wool but tend to have a shorter life.

PTT has similar characteristics of PET, but is stronger, more colorfast, and more easily cleaned.   PTT is more expensive than PET, which has a lighter face fiber weight.


Many carpets are rejected by recyclers because of contaminants.  Follow these guidelines below to help ensure the recyclability of old carpet.

Clean dirt and debris from carpet. Contaminants can cling to carpet during its removal process or from other demolition within the house.

Be sure to remove carpet tack strips and nails, which could potentially damage recycling equipment.

Carpets should be free of paint, drywall mud, body fluids, and other chemicals.

Make sure carpet sent for recycling is kept dry, in order to avoid mold or mildew buildup.  Collectors should store old carpet in a closed container or overhang.

Roll the carpet with the fibers facing out before dropping at a recycling center.  If possible, cut the carpet into 6 foot wide pieces.


Other reuse options:

Consider donating old, clean carpet to an organization like Habitat for Humanity.

Research other non-traditional ways to reuse old carpet in parts, like cat scratching posts or coasters.

Check with local manufacturers regarding any take-back programs for old carpet.


As an alternative to purchasing carpet, consider the following environmentally conscious flooring options.  Though the initial cost may be higher than carpet, these materials often last longer, are more durable, and cost less to maintain.

Bamboo – renewable resource produced using responsible forest management practices.

Natural Linoleum – produced from cork, chalk, linseed oil, and other renewable resources.

Natural Carpets – wool, cotton, and grass are all biodegradable and renewable.

Recycled Content Tile – created using waste glass from light bulbs and windshields.

Ceramic Tile – offers increased durability and low-maintenance.



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