Bill Memo: Carpet Recycling

Major benefit rating

Summary

This bill inserts new Title 32 of Article 27 into the Environmental Conservation Law by establishing an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program for carpeting that provides mandatory goals for recycling; convenient collection locations; phase out PFAS chemicals from new carpet production; a diversified stewardship organization and governance structure; and goals for a circular economy for the carpet industry.

Explanation

This legislation creates an Extended Producer Responsibly (EPR) program carpet, which will help tackle our solid waste crisis, reduce our demand for fossil fuels, and reduce toxic chemicals in our homes.

Carpet manufacturing is very input-intensive, using a tremendous amount of crude oil, energy, and other resources to create a product that fills up New York landfills at the rate of 515 million pounds per year. Although the national average for carpet recycling is 5%, the rate in New York is a paltry 1%, and local governments and businesses spend in excess of $22 million annually to dispose of it.

California, currently the only state with carpet EPR, has a 24% recycling rate. New York could achieve those same goals in five years or less, saving taxpayers and businesses an estimated $5.3 million a year and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 165,000 tons per year, which is equivalent to taking 32,000 cars off the road.

By requiring carpet producers to take responsibility for end-of-life management of their products, New York can stimulate the creation of a circular economy, while creating permanent full-time carpet recycling jobs. Recovered carpet can be recycled into valuable materials for which there is already high demand, including PET, PP, and nylon materials. These, in turn, can be used in a range of products such as textiles, automotive parts, consumer packaging, composite lumber, plastic bottles, and new carpets.

This bill will also address the presence of toxic and ubiquitous per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS “forever chemicals”), which are used on carpet as stain repellents. PFAS chemical exposure has been linked to developmental and reproductive disorders and cancer. Children are especially vulnerable to these effects as they spend more time on carpeted surfaces and engage in hand-to-mouth activities. In addition, a PFAS phaseout will help eliminate the leaching of PFAS into the environment from landfills.

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Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Major Benefit

Memo #: 1