Can Rugs Be Recycled?

ZR-06 from Zharah by Loloi

You have a rug in your home that you don’t need anymore. You suppose you can just throw it in the trash and forget about it, but that feels rather wasteful, doesn’t it? After all, besides the fact that the rug is a little beat up, there really isn’t anything wrong with it. If only there was something you could do other than just throw it away. And that’s when it occurs to you- is it possible to recycle a rug instead of throwing it in the trash? After all, you can recycle plastic, cardboard, and all sorts of materials, why couldn’t you recycle a rug?

But, if you can recycle a rug, how can you even do it? It’s not like you can just put it in your tiny blue recycling box and leave it on the curb, right? If you’ve been asking yourself all of these questions, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn the answer the question, “Can rugs be recycled?”

Can Rugs Be Recycled?

Sontag from Peridot by Jaipur

First things first, let’s answer the burning question: Can rugs be recycled?

The answer is a resounding yes! It is definitely possible to recycle your rug. However, many people do not know this. This is probably in part due to the fact that rug recycling is still pretty new. Just a little over 15 years ago, in 2002, the Environmental Protection Agency, along with a group of carpet manufacturers, signed something called the Memorandum of Understanding for Carpet Stewardship, also known as MOU. The goal of MOU was to divert 40 percent of rug and carpet waste that ends up in landfills and instead recycle it to be used for other products.

And, it’s excellent that something is finally being done about it, as it’s estimated that around 5 billion pounds of rug and carpet materials end up in landfills every year. This just causes further pollution, and it also means that perfectly usable material is going to waste.

How Do You Recycle Rugs?

ZR-06 from Zharah by Loloi

So, now that you know that you can recycle rugs, the next question is- how exactly do you recycle rugs? As we said earlier, many people do not know that you can recycle rugs. And, a large part of this has to do with the fact that unlike plastic or cardboard, you can’t really just throw a rug in a recycling bin and move on with your day. In fact, most recycling bins provided by the city do not even mention that rugs can be recycled.

Luckily, the MOU was aware of this issue when they formed, and they, therefore, decided to establish the Carpet America Recovery Effort, also known as CARE. The mission of CARE is to accommodate rug and carpet recycling across the US to both businesses and individuals. This organization offers information on 60 different rug and carpet recovery services that are dotted across the US.

The only problem with this is that there are some states that do not have rug recovery centers within a convenient driving distance. So, what do you do if there isn’t a recovery center by you? The best thing to do is to see if there are multi-purpose recycling centers in your area, as many of these will accept rugs and rug scraps. It’s also a good idea to look into local non-profit organizations, as many of them will accept rugs, especially if they are still in usable condition. For example, Habitat for Humanity is one organization that is known to accept rugs and other household items that other organizations turn down. They then take these items and repurpose them.

Why Should You Recycle Rugs?

NV-06 from Nova by Loloi

But, just why should you go through the extra effort of recycling a rug instead of just throwing it in with the rest of your trash? As we said earlier, around 5 billion pounds of rug and carpet materials end up in landfills every year. When the rug material is synthetic, it is extremely harmful to the environment, as it degrades at a very slow rate and it leaks dangerous chemicals into the ground during the degradation process.

In order to decrease the amount of rug materials in landfills, workers will incinerate the rugs. However, even though the incineration process brings down the amount of carpet, it actually has a number of negative side effects. When rugs are incinerated, they release endocrine disruptors, harmful pollutants, and dangerous chemicals like lead, mercury, and dioxin. And, to make things even worse, these incinerators are typically located in low-income neighborhoods. This means that disadvantaged residents in these areas suffer from higher rates of cancer, strokes, asthma, heart attacks, and pulmonary diseases.

Alternatives to Recycling Rugs

IE-02 from Isle by Loloi

So, let’s say you don’t want to throw your rug in a landfill, but you also don’t have any recycling centers near you. What can you do in that instance?

One thing you can do is to consider purchasing different rug materials. Specifically, ones that are made of all-natural, renewable materials. Natural rug materials include jute, seagrass, sisal, and wool. Not only are these materials renewable, but they also are extremely durable and look great in any home.

Another option is to repurpose your rug for other uses. It may surprise you to learn that there are a lot of different ways you can repurpose your rug. Here are some ways you can repurpose an old rug:

  • Hang your rug on the wall: If you have some empty space on a wall, a patterned rug with vibrant colors can really make a room look more vibrant and inviting
  • Move the rug outside: You can place an outdoor rug next to the pool, at the back door, or inside a treehouse
  • Reupholster a chair with an old rug: This allows you to use your old rug to create a new chair!
  • Add some flowers and rope to it and turn it into a tapestry: If the rug has a small stain on it, strategically placing a flower over the stain will make the rug look as good as new
  • Cover the rug material over a plain wooden bench
  • Paint the rug with animals, numbers, or other objects and use it as a learning/play mat for your children
  • Make a DIY cat-scratching post, using the rug as the base of the post

As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can repurpose an old rug!

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