Of the myriad of things cramming California landfills, discarded carpets are taking up lots of space. About 400 million pounds are tossed each year, equating to 39 million gallons of oil, says the non-profit Carpet America Recovery Effort.
Could California do better? State lawmakers think so. Last tear they passed a law that requires a 5-cent per square yard assessment on carpet starting this July that will be used to encourage carpet recycling. The recovered carpet will be used, as it already is, in the manufacture of new carpet, in building materials, and in products for the consumer and automotive industries.
The assessment will be put on all carpets sold or shipped into California and will appear as a separate after-tax item on receipts as a way to raise awareness of recycling with consumers.
The law places few demands on carpet manufacturers — just that they participate in a “carpet stewardship program” and conduct consumer education. For better or worse, it’s consumers themselves who will make the law a success. Consumers will be the ones to make the choice to recycle rather than toss carpet into a garbage can. And shoppers will drive the market for recycled products that are made from recycled carpet.
Here’s hoping that happens. CARE maintains a list of carpet reclaimers in California, here. It’s not exhaustive (only two are in the Bay Area). Alternatively, Recology, the company that currently manages San Francisco’s recycling program will also accept carpets. with special pick-up or drop-off at the San Francisco collection site.