Recycling of carpets is a hot topic. As most of the time carpet is made of different materials, like yarns, backing screen, backing adhesive and backing weight, it’s hard to make a single material for every quality of carpet. Furthermore there are multiple recycling ways for Carpet. VAE can play a role in many segments.
Re use carpet tiles – repair damaged parts
Especially carpet tiles can be used again, or repaired where parts are damaged. With current carpet tile design’s it possible to do this in a way one would not notice the different for repaired spots. Furthermore Carpet tiles can be Re-used. Also here VAE can play a key role, unlike many other polymers, VAE is a stable polymer when exposed to heat or sunlight. VAE does not become brittle or brown. Keeping it’s flexibility and binding power over decades.
Mechanical recycling can be done with different type of yarns and single-material carpet. If the binder is compatible and the backing coating is unfilled, in theory a carpet can be shredded into small pieces and be melted again to new plastic (PP, PET, PA). A simple example is already available for artificial grass.
VAE is already a thermoplastic, and compatible with many other thermoplastics, like PET, PE and PP.
In addition, one could seperate the yarns from the backing. Therewith a higher quality of recycled material is available, as this is solely coming from the yarns, which is often a single type of plastic. Many mono-material carpets that are in the market now, are based on “family” material, but practically, not ideal to recycle with just shreddering it to pieces.
If seperation of the yarns is necessary, the binder should be solvable in water and/or solvents. For VAE, alkaline water solutions or might solvent solutions have been tested succesfull in laboratories. But, results do depend on the specific compound and materials. (e.g. AE, which filler)
VAE is solluble in order to seperate yarns clean from the backing. Backing screen could be recycled also. The VAE Polymer will most probably be recycled in the filler, as part of the recycled compound.
Chemical depolymerization – Plastic to Plastic
There is already chemical recycled Polyamide on the market. Also for PET, PE or PP this is possible.
Chemical recycling to oil
There are several companies that can recycle plastics to oil. In the chemical supply chain, this oil can be used to make new plastics or synthetic fuels.
Burning, catch and reuse CO2
Burning of carpets can be the least effective way of recycling, but still, the filler would come out as residu that can be reused as a filler in backings, CO2 can be captured and with several chemical reactions be recycled to new chemical feedstocks (for example, CO2 + H2 would be able to create new methanol, a chemical building block for many (bio) plastics and (bio) fuels)