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Transforming old carpet tiles into pure and valuable yarn

Tarkett ceo Fabrice Barthélemy and Aquafil ceo Giulio Bonazzi.

French multinational Tarkett revealed a new way to recycle carpets at its facility in Waalwijk, the Netherlands, yesterday. The company is now able to separate the two principal components of carpet tiles – yarn and backing, while retaining more than 95% yarn purity.

This high level of purity is vital in ensuring that the polyamide 6 (PA6) yarn can be processed by its recycling partner, Aquafil. The Italian yarn producer efficiently transforms the material into regenerated ECONYL nylon yarn. Tarkett has invested around EUR 15 million in the carpet recycling project.

An important part of this investment was increasing the capacity of Tarkett’s facility in Waalwijk plant in order to produce a bigger volume of its patented EcoBase carpet tile. This features a special kind of backing, first launched in 2010, designed to enable easy disassembly and recycling.

Overall, 100% of an EcoBase-backed carpet tile with PA6 yarn is recyclable. The PA6 yarn and backing are recycled without loss of quality; used yarn becomes new yarn and used backing new backing. Recycling EcoBase-backed carpet tiles with ECONYL yarn delivers up to 84% CO2 savings compared to incineration.

‘This is a fundamental step forward in maximising the value of materials and preventing carpet tiles from being incinerated or sent to landfill,’ says Tarkett ceo Fabrice Barthélemy. Success in such a niche business depends largely on collaboration. ‘We hope that many more companies will participate in our dedicated ReStart flooring collection programme so we can really make a difference,’ Barthélemy urges. In a hopeful tone he remarks: ‘The construction and renovation sector is undergoing a major transformation.’

‘We are delighted to help Tarkett with the last mile of its journey to close the loop on carpet tile production,’ adds Aquafil ceo Giulio Bonazzi. ‘It is clear we have to transform the way products are designed and consumed. Through our partnership with Tarkett, we will boost the reutilisation of yarns and help to design out waste.’

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