The city of Napa wants people to think twice before sending old carpet off to the landfill.
Napa Recycling and Waste Services began accepting carpet discards this month. They will be transported to a plant in West Sacramento to be transformed into plastic products, carpet backing or usable carpet.
Carpet recycling can result in savings to the customer, a healthier environment and a reduction in the amount of waste piling up in landfills, said Kevin Miller, the city's recycling manager.
“According to recent studies, 3.2 percent of landfills are carpet,” Miller said. “I’ve been working in Napa for 15 years, and this is one of the most exciting programs I’ve seen as an industry professional because there’s not many occasions when you can take something that’s virtually always thrown away and divert it from the landfill.”
If residents and businesses get behind the program, Napa could divert as much as 8,000 tons of carpeting per year away from city’s landfill in Contra Costa County, Miller said.
Georgina Sikorski, executive director of the Carpet America Recovery Effort, said large consumers like schools and businesses have recycled carpet for decades and now there are nation-wide efforts to educate individuals about the need to recycle the carpet from their own homes.
“Carpet is a bulky item that takes up a lot of landfill space,” Sikorski said.
In 2010, the city passed an ordinance that requires new construction, demolition and renovation projects of a certain size to recycle at least 50 percent of their waste, so the option to recycle carpet will help people adhere to that, Miller said.
Napa is the first area city to offer the service, which will cost those wishing to recycle their carpet $55 per ton, or a minimum of $15, Miller said.
In every instance, it’s cheaper to use the new carpet recycling service than to haul carpet to the garbage transfer station near the airport, Miller said.
In a staff report to the City Council, Miller cited a study done in May by the Environmental Protection Agency that said carpet is the fourth-largest product contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in California, just behind lumber, mixed paper and cardboard. Carpet can be recycled indefinitely if it is made from petroleum-based products such as nylon, which is the case with most carpets made in the United States.
Tim Dewey-Mattia, Napa Recycling's public education manager, said people are already recycling carpet through the program that began Aug. 1. Thus far, customers have brought less than one ton of carpet. “That’s for a couple rolls of carpet, your typical residential job,” he said.
Each paid $15 for the recycling service.
Since the minimum dump fee at the garbage transfer station is $32, everyone is saving money by recycling carpeting, Dewey-Mattia said.
The city also offers carpet-recycling bins for larger projects that cost far less than a mixed garbage bins, Dewey-Mattia said. Some Napa flooring retailers have bins at their stores, so customers who purchase new carpet have a place to recycle their old carpet.
Carpet installers who use large bins are saving about 60 percent instead of running carpeting through the transfer station as garbage, Miller said.
“Landfill capacity is always an issue, so this provides an alternative for that,” Miller said.
This story was modified since first posting.