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'Ground-breaking' trials show carpet can be recycled

Recycling specialist Axion Consulting has discovered polypropylene carpets can be recycled into good quality polymer pellet for injection moulding.

Trials to investigate recycling options for post-consumer carpets and possible new end-use markets for polypropylene products made from recovered material were initiated by Carpet
Recycling UK
and funded by Envirolink North West.

Results showed that post-industrial extruded polymer has potential for use in a range of applications, including injection moulding. Post consumer carpets could be recycled for medium to lower grade applications to make items such as plant pots, compost bins or buckets. 

Axions Salford plant was used to carry out the research. Its director Roger Morton said: We believe this is the first in-depth study of its kind in the UK and are very pleased with the positive results. Carpet recycling in the UK is currently limited with only a few companies involved and recycling processing in development stages. So this successful study shows exciting potential and promise for material recovery from a difficult and largely ignored waste stream.

Around 500,000 tonnes of carpet is sent to the UKs landfill sites each year but the UK carpet industry recycling rate is under two per cent (6,000-10,000 tonnes).

According to Axions trials, correct identification and segregation of post-consumer carpets into an entirely polypropylene fraction is critical to making it commercially possible, as mixed polymer carpet cannot use the same process.

Going forward, large-scale trials will need to be undertaken in order to assess its commercial viability.

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