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What is the process for recycling carpet?

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Quick Answer

The process for recycling carpets includes the collection and transport of carpets into material recovery facilities, the manufacturing of new products from the recovered materials and the selling and purchase of recycled materials. The products include carpets, carpet padding and automotive parts.

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Full Answer

Carpets recovered for recycling undergo several processes, including fiber identification, size reduction and sorting the carpet components mechanically. The main objective of recycling carpet is to recover large portions of polymer, which is the raw material commonly used in textile and plastic manufacturing. Extracting the polyamide content from carpet waste involves mixing the carpet pieces with solvents, supercritical fluid or formic acid solutions. The extracted and recovered polyamide or Nylon 6 are sent to a depolymerization reactor. The depolymerized Nylon 6 is commonly converted into tufted carpets and yarns. Other extraction processes convert thermoplastic polymers into pellet resins and other fibers into carpet cushions.

Not every recovered material is suitable for conversion or manufacturing of secondary products. These waste materials are either combusted or sent to a landfill. The energy content of these materials is recovered in incineration as it undergoes a waste to energy conversion. Typically, the ashes from the combusted materials are sent to a landfill.

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