Carpet, not unlike so many other industries ripe for revolution, has a waste problem. An estimated 3.5% of all US landfill is carpet waste, resulting in 4 billion pounds of carpet not being recycled (Source: GAIA).Why? The traditional design of carpets means that a mix of different materials is glued together with latex. This makes the process of recycling and separating the original materials difficult and costly. This also limits the value of materials at the end of life.Enter the challenger. Our partners at DSM-Niaga recognised this massive environmental issue within their own industry and set out to design a solution that the whole carpet industry can embrace.
The core purpose of this project is simple: Materials at the end of life have a tradable value – like a currency.
This creates recycling with a business case, but only when:
- Things are designed the right way from the start
- Transparency and tracking are put in place to prove the integrity of the materials used
To tackle this, they’ve launched a rug made from just polyester (rPET), including the adhesive used to glue the layers together, and opened up the journey for everyone to see. It’s been introduced into the space to spark change around the idea of materials, waste and accountability for both businesses and the end-customer. In an industry that has only recently started to address these challenges, DSM-Niaga are looking to lead the way.
Unrolling the business case.With the new technology put in place with DSM-Niaga’s recyclable carpet, they (or others) can recycle an old carpet back into a new carpet – giving way to a circular economy business structure. If this information about a carpet’s production is then presented to the customer in a trustworthy way, it becomes a tradeable asset that the customer can sell on to the industry. By using Provenance to show their evidence and track the item on blockchain, buyers and sellers can ensure they trust what the carpet is made of and therefore recovery of the raw materials is easy upon disposal. The record of these verified, pure materials can live on the blockchain, along with a series of evidence backing this up. This creates the potential for it to be linked to global prices for the scrap value of recycled polyester since buyers know what’s being presented. A whole new market could develop.
Down the line.The first batch of these carpets has now launched in the US and will be heading the EU and UK shortly. We’re working with Canary Carpets, who sell rugs with the DSM-Niaga technology, to engage customers around the overarching mission of transparency and circularity – challenging them to make a commitment to recycling as the new owners of these now valuable materials.This project shows how a single organisation can challenge the status quo of an entire industry, and in doing so lead it into a brave new future. One where carpets are designed for circularity, blockchain enables used materials to become valuable currency and a new world order ushers in transparency that reaps rewards.Interested in how you can challenge your industry and lead with transparency? Get in touch.