Write a Specification
After deciding on a recycling route, the next step is writing that plan into the job's specification from the very beginning.
"The best thing to do is connect with the manufacturer, designer, or architect and have carpet reclamation specifications incorporated into the bid document upfront," Peoples recommends. "That's an easy no-brainer. Then everything flows smoothly because with the expectation, everyone knows exactly what needs to happen."
If recycling efforts aren't incorporated in the initial phase of the project, trying to recycle the carpet later may come at an additional cost.
"The general contractor needs to know right away to segregate the materials during demolition," says Tom Ellis, vice president of marketing for manufacturer Tandus. "If recycling is an afterthought and people have to scramble to treat the flooring differently, then the scope of work changes and the owner will have to pay for that."
Often recycling carpet is cost-neutral, cost-positive, or no more than $1 per square yard, adds Ellis.
"Throwing stuff in a landfill costs money, and so does recycling. Whether that's more or less expensive depends, but if it's close, the choice is obvious," says Nelson.
Depending on local tip fees, recycling can even save money.
"Rates vary, but a rule of thumb is carpet recycling costs about the same as getting a 30-yard commercial dumpster," Peoples says.
California is the first state to incentivize carpet recycling through AB 2398, the Carpet Stewardship Bill.
Peoples and carpet manufacturers expect other states to follow suit, perhaps by introducing ordinances that prohibit carpet from being left on the curb. On the East and West Coasts, landfill charges are based on weight and biodegradability, so throwing carpet away already comes at a premium.