CalRecycle disapproves industry plan to recycle carpet

CalRecycle disapproves industry plan to recycle carpet

California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery disapproves carpet recycling plan, citing lack of transparency and insufficient goals.


CalRecycle, Sacramento, California, has disapproved the proposed Carpet Stewardship Plan submitted by the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), Dalton, Georgia, after a public hearing, held May 15, 2018, because the proposal did not meet core requirements of California’s Carpet Recycling Act.

Sections of the plan that did not hold up to statutory requirements included grants, subsidies, incentives and the funding mechanism. In addition, the CalRecycle staff found insufficiencies with performance goals, adherence to the State Waste Hierarchy and program transparency with California fee money for effective oversight.

Thomas Helme, an environmental justice advocate for Valley Improvement Project in Stanislaus County, supported CalRecycle’s decision, pointing out that as a rural jurisdiction with zero carpet recycling locations, residents are paying into—and not benefiting from—this program. 

“We believe that CARE has demonstrated it is not a good steward of California fee money,” says Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the National Stewardship Action Council (NSAC), Sacramento, California. “We had a failure of carpet collectors in Sacramento who left two acres [of carpet] stacked two stories tall and left Sacramento County with a million-dollar bill to clean it up.”

In 2010, California became the only state to require carpet manufacturers to implement and manage a stewardship program for carpet recycling. Since passage of the first bill, the carpet industry has failed to achieve the goals set forth by the legislation, and CalRecycle has upheld fines for incompliance. A new carpet recycling law, sponsored by the NSAC, went into effect Jan. 1, 2018, changing carpet recycling requirements in California. As a result, two large companies, Aquafil and Interface, communicated interest in opening facilities and creating “green” jobs in California. 

Architects, designers and procurement specialists play a critical role in driving a greener market by purchasing recyclable carpet, says CalRecycle. New carpet procurement standards increasingly call for easily recyclable products to align their construction practices with the circular economy, including San Francisco standards for carpet installed in city-funded projects like public schools, libraries and government buildings.      

Founded in 2015 as an affiliate of the California Product Stewardship Council, NSAC is a nonprofit organization that engages primarily in lobbying and advocacy work for extended producer responsibility and product stewardship anywhere in the U.S. and at any level of government interested in legislation that drives a circular economy.