October 23/30, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 10
By Ken Ryan
The two major carpet mills and industry trade associations gave a thumbs down to California’s new carpet recycling law, which will require manufacturers selling carpet in the state to implement a stewardship program that sets a carpet recycling goal of 24% by 2020.
At stake here, observers say, is the risk of losing carpet sales in a state of 40 million people. The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) will have the authority to establish recycling targets beginning in 2020 and every three years thereafter. Legally, if no approved collection and recycling plan is in place for a particular carpet product, then manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers would be forbidden from selling that product in the Golden State. Worse, they could be subject to fines of $10,000 a day for violating the law.
Mohawk and Shaw are opposed to the new law, as is the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) and the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI). Bob Peoples, executive director of CARE, told FCNews, “The bill is law so I do not see any reason to respond. We are working to redraft our plan to comply and will submit the new version per the California schedule.” Mohawk and Shaw declined to comment.
Joe Yarbrough, CRI president, said in a statement that the vast majority of CRI members are not in favor of the law. “AB 1158 will add enormous cost and complexity that will negatively impact consumer costs as well as the health of the carpet industry. AB 1158 will have a detrimental effect on our industry and on the California economy because it includes requirements that are contradictory, makes it likely that any stewardship plan will fail, ignores the economics of the commodities markets, and will potentially close many of the businesses that currently receive subsidies and grants through the existing stewardship program.”
In 2010 the state of California passed legislation requiring manufacturers to develop a collection and recycling program. The program raised millions of dollars from consumer fees, and the carpet industry set a state goal of 16% carpet recycling by 2016. However, the rate was not achieved and fell from 12% to 10% in 2015, after which it grew to 11% in 2016. In April 2017, CalRecycle issued a finding that the program had failed to achieve “continuous and meaningful improvement” in rates of recycling and diversion of post-consumer carpet as required by the law. CalRecycle rejected the industry’s program plans and proposed $3 million in fines against CARE, the industry stewardship group.
Not every flooring entity is against this new law. Interface, along with Tandus Centiva, a Tarkett company, support the new law. In fact, Eric Nelson, vice president strategic alliances, Interface, told FCNews that his company was so committed to this cause that it “stepped away from the industry” to support and lobby for this bill.
“This isn’t a new initiative for us; we’ve been stewards of the environment for more than 20 years and sustainability is at the heart of our closed-loop design and manufacturing processes. Low petroleum prices have deterred recycling efforts, making a law like this imperative to advancing a circular economy. This law encourages us and others within the industry to continue innovating new means of production that continuously reduce our impact on the environment.”
Jay Gould, CEO of Interface, called the law “a positive step forward in driving a truly circular economy in our industry. While we have been committed to recycling product with our own ReEntry product take-back program for two decades, we felt it so important to push for this legislation that we joined a broad coalition of organizations to support and lobby for the bill.”
Supporters of AB 1158 cited the following as reasons why the bill needed to be implemented:
- Carpet is made of 99% plastic, from fossil fuel, and more than 30 million pounds of carpet was incinerated in California between 2011 and 2015.
- A CalRecycle waste characterization report found carpet to comprise 1.8% of the overall disposed waste stream in California.
- Recycling 1,000 square feet of carpet and pad diverts 500 pounds of carpet and padding out of landfills and prevents 913 pounds of CO2 from being emitted into the air (the equivalent of 950 miles driven by car).
- The demand for carpet is expected to increase to 14.6 billion square feet by 2019, an increase of 4.5%.