News Analysis

CARE Report Reveals Uncertainties

The Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE), created last year by members of the carpet industry, government entities, and nonprofit organizations, has released its first annual report on progress toward the goal of diverting 40% of America’s post-consumer carpet from landfills by 2012. As a first step in the ten-year plan, CARE had hoped to divert 178 million pounds (81 million kg) of carpet in 2002—3.8% of total discards. According to data they’ve been able to collect, CARE fell disappointingly short of its goal, reporting merely 1.2% diverted. What is most striking, however, is how little the organization really knows about the carpet waste stream and its recycling rates.

The information in the report, based on a survey conducted with the support of the University of Georgia, is unreliable for several reasons. First, the response rate was sluggish—of over 300 U.S. carpet and fiber manufacturers, reclaimable materials handlers, and recyclers surveyed, only 23 responded. The total amount of discarded carpet is also uncertain—because no mechanism exists to measure waste carpet, CARE used an estimate based on the amount of carpet shipped in recent years and an average 13-year life expectancy. Finally, double counting may have artificially inflated the reported diversion rate. CARE has no mechanism for tracking carpet, so it was possible for a manufacturer to report sending a certain amount of carpet to a recycler and for the recycler to report recycling that same carpet.

The silver lining is that the

Published June 1, 2003

(2003, June 1). CARE Report Reveals Uncertainties. Retrieved from