Beyond the Build

Green Building

Recycled Carpet

According to the EPA, it is estimated that a staggering 800 million square yards of carpet is sent to U.S. landfills each year. That is enough to cover New York’s Central Park every two days.

Fortunately, the carpet industry has begun to realize that there is no need for all this shag and nylon to go to waste. Recycled carpet is a growing trend, thanks in part to the Carpet America Recovery Effort . While only 6 percent of carpet waste was recycled in 2009, that is triple the amount from five years earlier.

When we moved into our new building three years ago, we used recycled carpet manufactured by a Georgia company called Interface . I have been very impressed with it. It looks great and has worn well. Plus it comes in squares, so when you spill something or wear out a particular part of the carpet, you can replace it with a single square rather than an entirely new carpet.

Old carpet also is being turned into a variety of other products, including composite lumber, tile backer board, roofing shingles, railroad ties, automotive parts, carpet cushion and stepping stones.

But the easiest thing to do with old carpet is spruce it up and turn it into new carpet. Every time I walk across the floor in our office, I am reminded that what is now our carpet was at one time someone else’s. And I feel good knowing that we kept it from going to waste in a landfill.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.