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Recycled carpet waste


The University of Bradford and the Bolton Institute have been given more than £150,000 for a joint project to consider ways to recycle carpet waste into novel underlays.

Part of the funding, given to the University’s School of Engineering, Design and Technology, will be used will help investigate and test the characteristics of different materials.

The two-year project will utilise industrial carpet process waste resulting from edge cuts, mismatches and rejects to produce underlays.

The underlays need to be flexible, durable and simple to produce and would possess vibro-acoustic and thermal insulation properties which would widen the scope of their application whilst providing a cheap alternative to otherwise expensive specialised materials.

Senior Lecturer in Environmental Acoustics in the School of Engineering, Design and Technology, Dr Kirill Horoshenkov, said: “The growth in demand for carpets is expected to rise at the rate of 2.5% per year. Europe alone produces nearly 1 billion square metres of carpet, while the UK ranked 5th internationally and was responsible for 150 million square metres of carpet production. In the UK the carpet industry accounts for £935m of income each year. About 7%, or £65m, of would-be-extra earning is annually lost in the form of waste produced during manufacturing processes and fittings.

“Most of this waste is destined for landfill at an additional cost of £750K to the manufacturer and the taxpayer. Given the increasing public concerns for the environment and scarcity of suitable landfill sites, these figures are likely to rise in years to come. Incineration as a second alternative is equally unacceptable due to large releases of toxic fumes to the atmosphere and its associated hazards.

“This study will therefore help to reduce this unnecessary waste while providing a low-cost alternative to underlays currently on the market. The recycled material can be easily integrated into many existing commercial products and the technology itself is expected to improve the sustainability and competitiveness of the UK’’s carpet manufacturing sector.”

It is anticipated that the material would conform to British Standards applicable to both underlays and acoustic arena and would compete comfortably with commercially available materials of similar calibre.

The project is supported by a £156,000 grant from the WRAP (DEFRA/DTI Waste Recycling Action Programme) and several multinational manufacturers of carpet and underlays. Other industrial partners include Armacell UK Limited and the University spin-off company, Acoutechs. The project employs two post-doctoral research fellows, Dr Mark Swift and Dr Ian Rushforth.

Emma Scales | alfa
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