Interface says it’s “creating a new network of regional recycling allies,” which includes Oakland, California–based Rethink Green. Interface expects this initial alliance to increase the amount of carpet that it annually recycles and reuses by 40 percent to 50 percent.
Interface President and CEO John Wells says the company’s missions since 1994 has been to use only recycled or bio-based raw materials “and fully close the loop.” The ReEntry recycling process allows Interface to capture the nylon “fluff” — the material that results from separating backing and face fiber — and recycle it back into new products.
“Now we are turning our attention to increase overall recycling, and to the high quality separation and harvesting of backing from carpet tile that advancements in the technology and process are yielding,” Wells says.
Since its founding in 2011 Rethink Green has recycled over 10,000 tons of carpet, and it recently acquired updated machinery for separating backing from carpet tile. Founder Carter Hallock projects that by the end of 2016 Rethink Green’s output will be 1,000 tons a month.
The company covers a territory that encompasses all of California and much of the western US, including Arizona, Colorado, Texas and Washington.
According to Eric Nelson, VP strategic alliances for Interface Americas, one of the biggest challenges to effective recycling of carpet is logistics, and it’s what has led to this regional approach. General contractors on commercial projects typically decide whether interior materials will be landfilled or recycled. Rethink Green has built strong relationships with general contractors. This partnership and similar alliances will help Interface track, collect and recycled used carpet tile from “thousands of jobsites across the country,” Nelson says. “They will help us cast the net far wider to harvest used carpet tiles and diverting them from landfills.”
In addition to allowing Interface to increase the tonnage it collects and recycles, Establishing a network of regional ReEntry hubs that can separate the backing has other benefits including minimizing the cost and carbon footprint of transporting the post-consumer materials to Interface’s ReEntry facility in Georgia and incentivizing investments in new technologies and recycling,” Nelson says.
Interface says it is searching for additional allies with a goal to establish a network of carpet tile recyclers so that overall recycling increases significantly each year and Interface is manufacturing in North America using 100 percent recycled or bio-based inputs by 2020.