Recycling of carpets and mattresses deemed a serious challenge

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Staggering amounts of used carpets and mattresses across the UK still end up at landfill sites

According to panellists, at the third session of the Textile Recycling Conference 2016, which took place in London on Wednesday, October 5, massive amounts of used mattresses and carpets across the UK, still end up at landfill sites, due to many local authorities refusing to separate and recycle the mixture of materials.

The panellists spoke about how tough it was to find waste outlets for both used carpets and mattresses.

Recycling of used carpets and mattresses deemed a serious challenge

Still too many used mattresses and carpets going to landfill and not properly recycled

During the session, Jane Gardner, senior consultant at Axion Consulting and manager at trade body, Carpet Recycling UK, stated that 400,000 tonnes of used carpet is disposed of every year across the UK.

She said that the materials found in carpets and mattresses was ‘mixed, dirty and hard to separate’, however, they do contain recyclable materials, including wool & synthetic fibres and bitumen.

According to Ms Gardner, carpet recycling in the UK has increased from only 2% of the used total arising in 2007, to 31% last year but included in the figure of 31%, around 65% went to energy from waste facilities.

Ms Gardner also added that energy from waste was where most used carpet ended up, whereas fibre recovery accounted for only 3% and plastic recovery just 4%.

“New technologies” were essential in achieving the 60% landfill diversion target by 2020, said Ms Gardner. At the moment, only nineteen facilities are available across the UK for used carpets, which include recyclers, reuse institutions and fuel flock professionals for energy recovery.

Although collections by retailers providing take-back programs have increased recently, just 20% of local councils that receive used carpets, separate them because of a lack of space, water damage and a shortage of buyers.

At the conference, delegates were told that the cost to a local authority for recycling one tonne of mattresses, was between £150-£200.

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