The circular economy
in the textile floor covering industry
What is the Circular Economy?
The principle of recycling is nothing new and has been in existence for a long time. However, the re processing and reuse of products that are no longer needed, as well as waste in general, has a positive and lasting impact on the global problems of resource use and climate change. This is the starting point for the principle of the circular economy which encourages a comprehensive change and increased efficiencies. Therefore, in addition to recycling, the following principles are particularly important:
- DESIGN: Material-efficient product design & use of easily recyclable materials
- PRODUCTION & DISTRIBUTION: Energy-efficient production and resource-saving distribution
- PRODUCT USE: Longer useful life of products
- RECYCLING: Collection and recycling of waste
- RAW MATERIALS: reuse of recycled (or regenerated) materials
The European carpet industry working towards a circular economy
Carpets are found in all areas of our lives; houses, offices, cars, airplanes, hotels and sports & leisure facilities, as a result, the consumption of floor coverings within the European Union is about 685 million m2 per annum. Although the majority of textile floor coverings today use yarn made from synthetic polymers, which are petroleum based, there are also a wide range of different materials and production processes available as alternatives. As most textile floor coverings are designed and manufactured with a 10 years life expectancy as a minimum, any transition to a circular economy is a long term prospect.
The industry's strategy is to implement the principles of a circular economy in three stages:
- Ensure that any existing textile floor covering currently in use, is recycled at the end of life in the best possible way.
- Ensure that a common Europe-wide approach to material usage and design of textile floor coverings is established which will allow the efficient recycling and reuse of materials. This process has already begun and takes into account the fact that existing products will have to be phased out in the short term. The aim is to create an industry wide closed loop system where materials are endlessly recycled using material pools.
- Create a culture of continuous investment within the European carpet industry to promote the use of the most advanced materials, create the most sustainable products and using the most energy efficient manufacturing methods possible. The aim is not just to control this through regulation but to create incentives for the most innovative approach to the Circular economy.