Any idea what happens to all that plastic we recycle? Sure, plastic bags can be made into new bags and plastic bottles into new bottles. But plastics also can be recycled into long-lasting products.
For example, your feet may be resting on former plastic water or soda bottles. Most carpeting is made from plastic fibers such as nylon, polypropylene or polyester. In recent years, manufacturers have been able to create carpet fiber from recycled plastics, such as the plastic used to make beverage bottles. It takes approximately 50 two-liter bottles to create one square yard of carpet fiber.
Like “virgin” plastics, the recycled plastic fibers often are more stain-resistant and color-fast than materials such as wool, and manufacturing carpeting using recycled plastics produces fewer emissions than using virgin plastics.
But let’s face it – no matter how great the carpeting, it’s not going to last forever. Approximately five billion pounds of carpeting are replaced each year in the U.S. Because carpeting often has a complicated structure made of several materials, it can be difficult and expensive to recycle. However, organizations like Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) are working with manufacturers to make recycling carpeting easier and more accessible for consumers. CARE has set a goal of diverting forty percent of carpeting waste from landfills by 2012.
Recovered carpeting can be made into building products such as composite lumber, roofing shingles and carpeting cushion, just to name a few. Just think – your well-used living room carpeting could become your new backyard deck!
Recycling everyday items such as plastic bottles and household products such as carpeting can help give these plastics a second life. Or a third.