How to Recycle Your Old Residential Carpet

Carpet recycling is worth it if you’re remodeling or upgrading your floor. Throwing your carpet instead of recycling it poses an environmental impact. Most carpets consist of wool, cotton, nylon, and polypropylene fibers.

These non-biodegradable items will remain in landfills for decades. Recycling carpets has economic and environmental benefits. Recycling your old carpet conserves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Selling or donating your old carpet is also worth considering.

What Is Carpet Recycling?

What Is Carpet Recycling?

Carpet recycling is turning old carpets into new, repurposed products. Carpet recyclers break down the carpet into single fibers. Other industries use them as raw materials. Industries that use post-consumer carpet materials include automotive, construction, and flooring.

What Materials Are Carpets and Rugs Made Of?

Carpets and rugs are made of natural and synthetic materials. The majority of carpet industries make synthetic fiber carpets. The main carpet fibers include nylon, polyester, triexta, polypropylene, and wool. Nylon and polyester carpet fibers are recyclable.

The Main Types of Carpet Recycling


Old carpets that are in good condition can be placed in other rooms. They also make good car floor mats, foot mats, and area rugs when cut up. Homeowners with pets use old carpets to make scratching posts and pet bed covers. They’re also suitable to use outdoors as welcome mats.

Material recycling

Recycling post-consumer carpets is sustainable and environmentally friendly. Both carpet face fibers and backings are recyclable into new products. Carpet America

Recovery Effort (CARE) aims to divert carpet waste from landfills and make new products.

Recycled carpets with the CRI certification emit low VOCs indoors. Other products made from recycled carpets have the LEED, NSF/ANSI 140, or EPD certifications.

Energy recovery

Energy recovery is for carpets that can’t be recycled. The carpet waste materials generate heat, electricity, or fuel energy. It’s a suitable way to dispose of carpet waste compared to dumping it in landfills. Energy recovery from carpets also reduces Municipal Solid Waste incineration. Incineration releases toxic chemicals into the environment.

What Are the Environmental Benefits of Carpet Recycling?

Carpet recycling reduces the amount of carpet waste that ends up in landfills. Synthetic carpets are non-biodegradable, so they end up piling up. Recycling companies divert post-consumer carpet waste into new products.

The process enhances sustainable manufacturing by conserving energy and resources. Carpet recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Using recycled carpet material during manufacturing produces fewer emissions than virgin-content carpet.

Scrap carpet makes carpet padding, carpet tiles, and new carpets.

Common Products Made From Recycled Carpet

  • Carpet tiles
  • Outdoor mats and rugs
  • Insulation
  • Landscaping mulch
  • Carpet padding
  • Soundproofing material
  • Industrial cleaning pads
  • Geotextiles
  • Plastic pellets
  • Clothing and accessories

10 Ways to Recycle Your Old Carpet

1. Donate It to Local Carpet Recyclers

Most local waste pickup companies don’t accept carpet waste since it’s bulky and they cannot recycle them. Instead of throwing carpets, look for nearby carpet recycling organizations. Ensure the carpet is clean and free of contamination before dropping it off.

Notable carpeting companies like Shaw and Flor let customers return old carpets for recycling. They offer designated collection sites for old carpets.

2. Sell It Online or at a Garage Sale

Various online platforms list used rugs, including eBay, Etsy, and Facebook marketplace. Prices vary depending on the carpet’s construction, size, and style. The carpet should be clean and in good condition.

It should not show any signs of wear and tear or stains. Consignment shops also accept used carpets. They charge a commission on the selling price.

3. Use It for Outdoor Carpeting

Old carpets are suitable as outdoor rugs for a balcony, outdoor living area, or pool deck. Carpets protect the floor and merge the indoor style with the outdoor space. Cut carpet pieces can also create a pathway in a kitchen garden.

4. Use It as a Rug or Mat by Cutting It Up

Mark the carpet backing where you want to cut it. Use a utility knife to make a clean, straight cut through the carpet. Ensure you protect the floor underneath using cardboard. Apply carpet glue on the edges to prevent fraying.

5. Line Garden Beds and Planters With It

Lining garden beds and planters using carpet allows water to drain while retaining the soil. Natural fiber carpets are ideal for use at the bottom of a raised garden bed. The carpet prevents weeds and grass from growing from underneath. Use a carpet stapler to attach the carpet on the base and sides of the garden bed.

6. Make a Purse or Pillow From It

Soft and comfortable carpets make neat purses and throw pillows. Cut the carpet to the desired size and sew it all around, except one side for the pillow. Stuff in some old clothes to make it cozy and attach a zip or buttons to close it up. When making a purse, a handle has to be included.

7. Make a Mosaic or Wall Hanging With It

An old carpet makes an excellent base for a mosaic or wall hanging. Add colorful tassels using a crochet hook and different colors of yarn. Painting the carpet is also a great way to make the wall hanging stylish.

8. Use It to Cover Workshop or Garage Floors

Old low-pile carpets are suitable for garage or workshop floors. Synthetic fiber carpets made from nylon are easy to clean. Nylon is also resistant to abrasion and wear, which makes it suitable for workshop and garage floors.

9. Use as a Pet Bed or Toy Base

Pet owners can use old carpets to make a pet bed or scratching post for cats. The smooth carpet surface makes pet beds comfortable and warm. One carpet makes several pieces, so you can dispose of them if they get soiled or stained.

10. Use It as Padding

Cut up the carpet into large pieces and use it as padding when moving furniture or appliances. Old carpets can also protect the floor under exercise equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How can I dispose of old carpets that can’t be recycled?

Order a bulk-trash pickup for broadlooms. You can also hire a waste hauling company to dispose of the carpet. Carpet manufacturers or retailers also offer to pick up old carpets at a fee. Donate it or sell it online if the carpet is in good condition.

Can I recycle old carpet padding as well as the carpet itself?

Yes, most companies that recycle carpets recycle padding as well. Rebond foam, fiber, and rubber padding are recyclable. Check that the recyclers also accept carpet padding before sending it in.

What are the most common carpet recycling mistakes?

Common carpet recycling mistakes include sending carpet and padding together and not checking the label. While most carpets are recyclable, those made from plastic cannot be recycled. When sending in carpets for recycling, use separate bags for different fibers.

How much does it cost to replace an old carpet?

Removing old carpet, new carpet material, and installation costs contribute to replacement costs. The average cost of removing and disposing of old carpet is around $100. Carpet installation costs depend on the carpet type, material, and room.

Recycling your old carpet offers better environmental benefits than dumping it in a landfill. Common carpet recycling options include repurposing, reusing, or breaking it down to make a new product. Besides conserving the environment, carpet recycling reduces waste and lowers greenhouse gas emissions.