What do you do with 45,000 pounds of old carpet?

That question was top of mind for our Capital Projects Team as the Vancouver Convention Centre’s iconic West Ballroom recently received its first carpet refresh since the building first opened in 2009.

With a new carbon-neutral carpet product created by Milliken installed to offer a fresh look and green experience, we wanted to find a sustainable solution for the disposal of the old carpet. As it turns out, that’s more challenging than you might think.

While many carpets can now be recycled effectively, many types, especially older material, simply can’t due to their unique manufacturing process that makes separating its various materials almost impossible. Thankfully, for carpet that can’t be broken down sustainably, there’s a market for used modular supply in good condition that can be resold at a lower cost.

We partnered with the team at PAC Recycling to identify how much of our leftover carpet could be re-used and re-homed, and thankfully it was a lot. Of the 21,205 kg (46,756 lb) of carpet removed, just over half of it - approximately 32,580 ft2 - was healthy enough for PAC Recycling to collect and move for re-installation at other offices in need.

What impact does recycling used carpet have? Beyond the diverting of challenging materials from landfills, it avoids emissions that would be produced to create new product - typically between 7.5 to 8 metric tons of CO2 to create every metric ton of carpet tile – while reducing the emissions created through breaking down old product.

So while not every piece of old carpet will be re-usable, every inch that can be makes a difference. And every sustainable action you can add to your operational processes makes an even bigger one.