Recycling polypropylene carpets
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Recycling polypropylene carpets. In association with Carpet Recycling UK Funded by Envirolink Northwest Jane Gardner. Presentation Summary. Project aims Types of carpet Current recycling routes Demonstration trial results Economic assessment Project conclusions. Project aims.

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Recycling polypropylene carpets

Recycling polypropylene carpets

In association with Carpet Recycling UK

Funded by Envirolink Northwest

Jane Gardner

Presentation summary
Presentation Summary

  • Project aims

  • Types of carpet

  • Current recycling routes

  • Demonstration trial results

  • Economic assessment

  • Project conclusions

Project aims
Project aims

  • To develop a process for recycling polypropylene carpets

  • To assess commercial viability of the process

Uk carpet sustainability
UK Carpet sustainability

  • Over half a million tonnes/year of carpet enters the UK waste stream

  • Recycling rate currently less than 2%

  • Carpets have high carbon footprint due to use of virgin materials – big sustainability gain if recycled

Carpet materials
Carpet materials

  • Polymers:

    • Polypropylene (PP);

    • Polyester/Polyethylene terephthalate (PET);

    • Nylon;

    • Chalk-filled elastomers;

  • Natural fibres:

    • Wool; and

    • Hessian/Jute.

Types of carpet woven
Types of carpet - woven

  • Made by weaving the carpet pile into warp fibres with a loom

  • Warp fibres can be polyester or PP, whilst the pile tends to be PP

Types of carpet tufted
Types of carpet - tufted

  • Pile fibres attached to a backing layer

  • Pile fibres - wool or PP

  • Elastomercompound bonds fibres to the backing layer

  • Second backing layer – made from hessian or manmade fibre such as PP

Carpet recycling initiatives
Carpet recycling initiatives


  • CARE – Carpet America Recovery Effort – founded 2002

    Europe – late 1990’s:

  • RECAM - Recovery of Carpet Materials

  • CRE - Carpet Recycling Europe

  • Polyamid 2000 in Germany

    UK – late 2000’s:

  • Greenback Recycling

  • Reeds Carpets – exhibition/temporary floors

Existing end markets
Existing end markets

  • Typically low value

  • Equestrian surfaces – additive to sand based all weather surfaces

  • Plastic cannot be recovered once used as equestrian surface

  • Other applications:

    • Horticultural market

Axion recycling trials
Axion recycling trials

  • NIR ID sorting

  • Size reduction

  • Screening

  • Extrusion

Size reduction
Size reduction

  • Granulation

    • 15mm screen

  • Alternative options:

    • Shearing

    • Shredding

Screen to remove dust fines
Screen to remove dust, fines

  • High energy flip-flop screen

  • 12x12mm deck

  • Alternative technique

    • dry cleaning

Screening results
Screening results

  • Oversized fraction cleaner and less dusty than feed

  • High yield loss - due to screen size of granulator (15mm) relative to flip-flop (12mm)

  • For 12mm flip-flop - granulator needs to be 20-25mm

  • For 15mm granulator screen - flip-flop needs to be 6-8mm

Lab scale extrusion
Lab scale extrusion

  • Sorted PP carpet samples:

    • Post industrial

    • Post consumer

  • Material prepared for extrusion by partial melting then granulation

Extrusion problems
Extrusion problems

  • Initial batch of carpets could not be extruded

  • Presence of un-melted fibres made from different polymers – nylon and PET

  • Problem due to different types of carpet – woven and tufted

  • Second batch of tufted carpet processed successfully

Moulded polymer
Moulded polymer

  • Post industrial – injection moulding applications

  • Post consumer – lower grade injection moulding, for example plant pots and buckets

Commercial assessment
Commercial assessment

  • Feed stock in Northwest - estimated at over 6,000 tonnes per annum meeting specification of:

    • Tufted construction;

    • Positively identified PP pile and backing fibres;

    • Dry and with no heavy contamination;

    • Suitable for manual handling.

Technical conclusions
Technical conclusions

  • Straight forward processing route:

    • Rigorous PP identification and sorting

    • Size reduction

    • Screening

    • Extrusion

  • Finished PP:

    • Good physical properties,

    • Suitable for use in medium to low grade applications, Eg injection moulded plant pots

Commercial conclusions
Commercial conclusions

  • Critical success factor - correct identification of all polymer fibres within the carpet

  • Economics of the recycling process are promising

  • Next step: Commercial scale testing

Axion consulting
Axion Consulting

Tudor House




0161 426 7731

[email protected]