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Recycler reclaims polypropylene from carpeting

A British consortium has conducted successful trials converting waste polypropylene (PP) carpets into pellets that can be re-used in new applications, including injection molded products. Recycling specialist Axion Consulting, in conjunction with Carpet Recycling UK and using funding from Envirolink NW, undertook demonstration trials and laboratory tests at its Salford plant that it believes could boost the country's carpet recycling industry while creating new markets for PP recyclate.

A British consortium has conducted successful trials converting waste polypropylene (PP) carpets into pellets that can be re-used in new applications, including injection molded products. Recycling specialist Axion Consulting, in conjunction with Carpet Recycling UK and using funding from Envirolink NW, undertook demonstration trials and laboratory tests at its Salford plant that it believes could boost the country's carpet recycling industry while creating new markets for PP recyclate.

Undertaking trials at its plant in Salford, British recycling research, Axion Consulting, says it has successfully reclaimed polypropylene from carpeting based on the polyolefin.
Undertaking trials at its plant in Salford, British recycling research, Axion Consulting, says it has successfully reclaimed polypropylene from carpeting based on the polyolefin.
"We believe this is the first in-depth study of its kind in the UK and are very pleased with the positive results," Axion Director Roger Morton said. "Carpet recycling in the UK is currently limited with only a few companies involved and recycling processing in development stages. So this successful study shows exciting potential and promise for material recovery from a difficult and largely-ignored waste stream." According to Axion, 500,000 tonnes of carpet waste are sent to landfill each year in the UK, with the country's recycling rate at just under 2%—an estimated 6000 to 10,000 tonnes.

Tests showed that while post-industrial extruded polymer had potential in a range of applications, further work was needed to verify its suitability. At this stage, the participants believe post-consumer material could be recycled for medium- to lower-grade applications such as plant pots, compost bins, or buckets. At present, post-consumer carpets are primarily used in the equestrian or horticultural markets, with carpets in the former example used as a surface material and laid on the ground. Once the carpet has been used as an equestrian surface, however, the plastics cannot be recovered further. According to the World Floor Covering Assn. (WFCA), PP represents more than 35% of the total fibers used in the carpet industry, with nylon and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) also seeing use. While PP is not as resilient or resistant to abrasion as nylon, it is naturally stain and fade resistant. The WFCA says it's most often used in loop pile carpet constructions. —[email protected]

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