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New York state legislature passes carpet EPR bill

The law will establish carpet recycling goals, statewide collection, an awareness campaign and address per- and polyfluroalkyl substances in carpet.

New York lawmakers recently approved a carpet extended producer responsibility (EPR) law expected to increase carpet recycling and reduce toxins in manufacturing new carpets.  

Spearheaded by Senator Brian Kavanagh and Assemblyman Steve Englebright, the bill to establish a carpet EPR program passed the Senate and Assembly and is expected to be signed by Governor Kathy Hochul. If enacted, New York’s law will be the first to include artificial turf.    

“Creating a comprehensive EPR program for carpet materials will have significant environmental benefits but will result in new investments in carpet recycling technologies as well, paving the way for new jobs and a green future,” Kavanagh says. “For too long, our waste systems have been clogged with toxic carpeting materials. By passing this legislation, we begin to correct that, keeping hundreds of tons of carpet waste out of landfills.”    

According to the Product Stewardship Institute, Boston, the national average for carpet recycling is five percent, and the rate in New York is one percent. Each year, the state sends 515 million pounds of unused or discarded carpet to fill New York landfills or be burned in waste-to-energy plants. Local governments and businesses spend more than $22 million annually to dispose of it.    

The law will establish mandatory goals for recycling and postconsumer content in new carpets, convenient collection statewide, education and awareness, and the phase-out of per- and polyfluroalkyl substances chemicals from new carpet production. It will establish a multistakeholder advisory board to advise producers and the state, which oversees the program. Requiring carpet producers to finance and manage the collection and recycling of scrap carpets removes the financial burden of managing this bulky material from local governments and taxpayers and will reduce the energy needed to make new carpets, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and saving valuable natural resources.    

“An EPR program for carpets in New York will go a long way in tackling our solid waste crisis, reducing our demand for fossil fuels, and reducing toxic chemicals in our communities,” says Kate Kurera, deputy director of Environmental Advocates New York. “Requiring manufacturers to take responsibility for both the creation and end-of-life management of their products was also an important recommendation of the State Climate Action Council’s draft scoping plan for achieving the goals of the state climate law.”    

The bill will also help create permanent full-time recycling jobs. California is currently the only state with a carpet EPR law, which passed in 2010. Since then, the state has created 500 direct and indirect jobs and, in 2020, achieved an annual carpet recycling rate of about 27 percent. Projections show that New York could achieve those same goals in fewer than five years, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 165,000 tons per year, which is equivalent to taking 32,000 cars off the road, according to the Product Stewardship Institute.