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Innovate Recycle, UK’s First Carpet Recycling Facility to Repurpose Waste Carpet

Innovate Recycle’s factory leads the charge against emissions and waste

Innovate Recycle’s factory in Northampton has planned to repurpose up to 20,000 tonnes of waste carpet each year. It is UK’s first factory to reduce carbon emissions in the flooring industry.

The company also announces its new accreditation programme and £750,000 in fresh funding led by Active Partners, the consumer investors behind Soho House, Rapha and LEON.

This takes its total investment to £7.6 million, including an investment of £2.35 million from the South East Midlands LEP, UK Government Getting Building Fund.

Innovate Recycle got a report commissioned which found out that in the UK, out of the 500,000 tonnes of carpet waste made every year, only 2% of it is being recycled. This waste either goes to other countries to be handled or gets turned into new carpets, especially if the old carpet was made from wool, which is easier to recycle. Currently, carpet waste that is not recycled is either sent to landfill or burnt.

The environmental impact of producing carpet is also significant, with every kilogram of carpet manufactured using virgin polymer producing two kilograms of CO2 emission impact. Recycling and retrieving the polypropylene used in carpets reduce this impact considerably by 1.6 kg of CO2 per kilogram of carpet.

In tandem, there is a rapidly growing demand for recycled polypropylene products as government legislation and consumer awareness around the negative environmental impacts of virgin plastic drive demands for recycled alternatives. With the recycled polypropylene market expected to reach £10.5 billion in 2029, the potential for recycled plastic production is vast.

Mr Eccleston said he was inspired to tackle the issue after working in the flooring industry as a retailer and noticing the large amount of waste. He added, “Seeing is believing. Having this facility in Northampton is quite key to getting people to come and see what we’re doing, how we recycle carpet and the impact that they can have.”

It took around £10 million to build the factory, and it was opened in April at the Lodge Farm Industrial Estate in Duston. This factory takes in waste material, sorts it out, and separates it. There is a line of machines that take apart polypropylene plastic from the bottom part of carpets. Then, they turn this plastic into small pieces called pellets. These pellets can be used to make things like car bumpers and storage containers.

Innovate Recycle
Innovate Recycle is on a mission to transform the carpeting world with its scalable and sustainable solution for end-of-life carpets. As the first-of-its-kind facility in the UK, the Innovate Recycle team has developed a patented mechanical process which deconstructs polypropylene carpets, which make up 70% of the UK market. The process extracts the original polypropylene and calcium carbonate components, diverting carpets from landfill or incineration and reclaiming the component parts to be used to make a range of new products.

Martin Harris, chief executive of retailer Tapi Carpets, recognized that finding solutions to the industry’s waste issue was an “important topic that needs dealing with”.

Founded in 2018 by Joseph Eccleston, who was born into the carpet industry, Innovate Recycle aims to influence the traditional carpet industry to improve its environmental impact and move towards a more circular future

Joseph Eccleston, the visionary behind the initiative, envisions a process of revitalizing old carpets into new ones, thereby diverting waste from landfills. Key figures in the carpet industry, including Martin Harris from Tapi Carpets and Phil Gammidge from waste management company Biffa, have expressed support for this sustainable solution.

The company has been working together with Innovate Recycle. Their store in Milton Keynes is the first one in the country that gives sorted waste to the recycling experts.

Innovate Recycle’s first facility is now fully operational and has already received strong demand from the carpet and waste handling industry, working with companies such as Designer Contracts, Biffa and Allwood Recycling Solutions.

 

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