The UK is forging ahead on the recycling front, and if you didn’t know that your old used carpet can be turned into electricity, take note. This is a fairly new development but the technology is already in place and steadily improving, according to reports from Carpet Recycling UK (CRUK).
At CR UK’s fourth annual conference in Birmingham earlier this year there was a lot of interest in new techniques for extracting heavy oil as well as energy from waste carpet. The conference featured presentations by leading carpet recyclers from the UK, Italy, Austria, Germany and the U.S. The demonstrations were very encouraging as they indicated measurable improvement in recycling options and the value of reclaimed products.
One of the interesting new developments was introduced by Worldwide Recycling Equipment Ltd, a modular system that can generate one megawatt per hour, or enough to power 1,000 homes, from 25 tonnes of carpet waste per day. Another was the thermocatalytic conversion process currently in use in two Hungarian plants. They produce up to 6,500 tonnes of heavy oil per year using a mixture of plastic and rubber waste, and it’s been demonstrated that the process would also work with carpet waste.
The director of CRUK, Laurence Bird, notes that great progress has been made in the last few years in terms of the increase in recycling and decrease in waste that goes into landfills. In 2007 only 2% per of waste carpet made it to recycling centres; this year that figure has risen to 16.5 %. However, he said, that still leaves 83.5% that’s moldering in landfills and no use to anybody.
Jane Gardner of Axion Consulting, resource recovery specialists who manage CRUK, said that developing higher value outlets and more efficient collection strategies for carpet waste, as well as designing carpet that is conducive to recycling are high priorities for everyone involved in the carpet industry.