stack of carpets.
Carpet Disposal

Carpet Disposal and Recycling

Carpets are the most popular form of flooring in the UK. They feature in many UK homes and businesses. It’s a great insulator, so is highly valued by those of us contending with British weather. However, as the average carpet has a lifespan of five to 10 years, the UK also produces large volumes of carpet waste.

Proper carpet disposal is essential to get rid of used carpets in a safe and green manner. Recycling carpet is a great option but it’s not as simple as throwing away alongside you other recyclables. Find out what to do with old carpet from your home or business in this guide.

Carpet disposal

  • What type of waste are carpets?

    Carpets may fall into a few different categories of waste. Due to the materials they’re made from, most old carpets class as a form of textile waste. However, due to their size and shape, they’re sometimes considered a type of bulky waste.

  • Who invented carpet?

    The use and design of carpets has been well-documented throughout history, and they’re found throughout history in many different cultures. As a result, it’s difficult to pinpoint precisely who ‘invented’ carpets. However, the earliest evidence of carpets dates back to 7000 BC in Northern Iran and the Armenian Highlands.

  • What materials are carpets made from?

    Traditional carpets are made from wool. However, as this material can be rather expensive, many carpets are often made from various synthetic fibres such as nylon, polyester, and polypropylene. These materials (or sometimes a combination of them) form the pile section of the carpet. This is attached to the fabric backing using substances such as PVC.

  • How are carpets made?

    Some carpets are still made by hand, but modern-day manufacturers use specialist machinery to speed up their carpet-making methods:

    • A series of needles push the carpet fibres through the carpet backing, typically made from a large piece of fabric.
    • The looper (a large hook) holds the fibres together until the needle goes back through the backing, forming a loop.
    • The process repeats until the carpet reaches its desired length. It may also be cut to size later, depending on specific demands or requests.
  • Is carpet recyclable?

    Yes, thankfully, most carpets in the market today can be recycled. Most carpets are recyclable and can be turned into new products such as insulation and sports pitches. However, as they’re made from a combination of materials and fibres it can be complex and it’s estimated that only 2% of carpets are disposed of appropriately.

  • How do you dispose of carpets?

    When your carpet reaches the end of its life – usually after five to 10 years of use – they must be disposed of properly. Whether you’re disposing of carpet from your home, office, or other place of business, it must be done safely and in a way that has a minimal impact on the environment.

    To dispose of old carpet, you should:

    • Safely remove the carpet using appropriate tools.
    • Cut and roll it up into smaller sections, making it easier to store before carpet disposal.
    • Store old carpets in the appropriate containers or bins before disposal. Ideally, they should also be stored in a cool, dry place.
    • Arrange collection of your carpet waste by a licensed waste carrier.
    • They’ll transport to a nearby facility with experience disposing of carpet.
  • Can you put carpet in general waste?

    No, when disposing of carpet, you should not put it in with general waste – whether using a domestic or commercial waste bin. Many landfills and recycling centres will not accept carpet thrown away with general waste. Plus, it can take decades to decompose and release toxins from the plastic materials that add to pollution when ending up in landfill.

    Instead, seek out businesses that offer proper carpet recycling and disposal methods – such as Business Waste. We can arrange collection and safe disposal of your old carpets from anywhere in the UK. Contact us online or call 0800 211 8390 for a free quote and to arrange disposal of your carpet.

  • Can you put carpet in a skip?

    Yes, you can normally put carpet in a skip for disposal. Skips are a good option for storing old carpets on your premises before collection and disposal due to their bulky size. However, you must ensure you have a permit if you place a skip on a public road.

    You should not throw old carpet away in someone else’s skip. Plus, you need to arrange collection of any skip you use by a licensed waste carrier, so your carpets are disposed of safely, legally, and in an environmentally friendly manner.

  • What happens to old carpets after they’re put in the bin?

    The materials used to create carpets don’t always decompose easily, meaning they can cause significant damage to the environment if sent to landfill sites. However, if taken to an appropriate recycling facility, they can be separated and prepared for reuse.

    • The carpet is broken down into smaller, more manageable sections.
    • These sections are fed through a specialist machine that cleans the carpet before shredding it into even smaller pieces which can then be separated.
    • The fibres can be used to create new carpets – whereas other elements, like leftover plastics from the backing, can be used to make construction materials and even automotive parts.
  • What are some eco-friendly alternatives to carpets?

    One of the main reasons carpets remain a popular flooring choice in the UK (and beyond) is because they’re great insulators that help keep your home warm. However, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives out there you can consider like sustainable wooden flooring (made from recycled or repurposed materials) or jute flooring (a soft fibre that’s much easier to recycle than traditional carpet).

    However, if carpets are a necessity, it’s often worth spending a little more money to purchase a woollen carpet – as these materials biodegrade naturally.

  • Can you do anything with old carpets instead of throwing them away?

    Fortunately, there are various alternatives to consider before throwing away your carpet – as they have a variety of uses beyond traditional flooring. Professional cleaning could give your old carpet a new lease for life. Alternatively, if it remains in good condition, you might want to resell or donate your carpet.

    If you’re looking to repurpose your carpet, it can be used to create floor mats for your car or work vehicle. Additionally, veterinary practices or animal shelters are always on the lookout for old carpets, as they can be used to create scratching posts or even beds for animals.

  • What are the costs associated with recycling and disposing of carpets?

    If you’re disposing of carpet from your home, your local council may offer a bulky waste collection service that can include old carpets. While you must arrange for this to be collected outside of your general waste collection, it’s often free of charge.

    When your carpet disposal is part of your business, you need to cover the costs of removal yourself. At Business Waste, we can help you cut carpet disposal costs by providing free bins (you pay for collection) and ensuring your waste is collected quickly and efficiently.

  • How much carpet waste is there?

    In the UK, we generate 40,000 tonnes of carpet waste every year – with most of these products being disposed of incorrectly. Approximately £750 million of carpets are sold each year in the UK.

  • How many carpets are in landfills?

    Recent studies suggest as little as 2% of carpets are recycled appropriately, so it’s fair to assume most carpets end up at landfill sites – though the exact figures are unclear. A recent investigation found that we incinerate 130,000 tonnes of carpet each year in the UK alone.

    If sent to a landfill site, the synthetic materials used to create carpets can take thousands of years to decompose – contributing significantly to global warming in the process. The manufacturing process for carpets also requires a great deal of work to become more sustainable. For example, it often produces large volumes of excess or surplus materials that are then thrown away.

  • Where can you take carpets to recycle or dispose of them for free?

    Good waste management services are worth paying for – especially if it helps your business take better care of the environment. However, it’s also important to remember that your local council may sometimes be able to collect carpet waste from your home for free or for a small cost. Alternatively, you can resell old carpets online or donate them to charity.

Learn about more 
waste types

Find out more about other rubbish streams.

Read our guides to waste types
free bins icon.

Get a fast and free quote

Get a fast FREE quote for your carpet disposal

  • Free quote within 1 hr
  • Any type of waste
  • FREE bins and delivery
  • We cover all of the UK

Read our latest news

rear end loader graphic.

Front vs Rear End Loaders

Need a big bin to store lots of commercial waste? Discover the difference between front and rear end loader bins to work out which is best for your business.