Launch Slideshow

Dehydrated dissolving solution is recovered for reuse

EcoWorx Backing for Broadloom Carpet

Shaw Industries created a cradle-to-cradle solution for broadloom carpet backing.

EcoWorx Backing for Broadloom Carpet

Shaw Industries created a cradle-to-cradle solution for broadloom carpet backing.

  • Carpet to be recycled is chopped into pieces

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    Carpet to be recycled is chopped into pieces

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    Courtesy Shaw Industries

    Carpet to be recycled is chopped into pieces

  • The pieces are placed in a bio-based dissolving solution

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    The pieces are placed in a bio-based dissolving solution

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    Courtesy Shaw Industries

    The pieces are placed in a bio-based dissolving solution

  • After soaking the solution, the backing is separated from the face fiber

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    After soaking the solution, the backing is separated from the face fiber

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    Courtesy Shaw Industries

    After soaking the solution, the backing is separated from the face fiber

  • Dehydrated dissolving solution is recovered for reuse

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp10BB%2Etmp_tcm20-193511.jpg?width=600

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    Dehydrated dissolving solution is recovered for reuse

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    Courtesy Shaw Industries

    Dehydrated dissolving solution is recovered for reuse

  • Recovered backing polymer is separated out

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    Recovered backing polymer is separated out

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    Courtesy Shaw Industries

    Recovered backing polymer is separated out

  • Recovered polymer is ground into pellets that can be made into new backing

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    Recovered polymer is ground into pellets that can be made into new backing

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    Courtesy Shaw Industries

    Recovered polymer is ground into pellets that can be made into new backing

  • Ecoworx backing for broadloom carpet was engineered as a cradle-to-cradle product, which can be reclaimed at the end of the product's life cycle, broken down into its component pieces, and completely recycled into new commercial-grade carpet.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp10BE%2Etmp_tcm20-193532.jpg

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    Ecoworx backing for broadloom carpet was engineered as a cradle-to-cradle product, which can be reclaimed at the end of the product's life cycle, broken down into its component pieces, and completely recycled into new commercial-grade carpet.

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    Courtesy Shaw Industries

    Ecoworx backing for broadloom carpet was engineered as a cradle-to-cradle product, which can be reclaimed at the end of the product's life cycle, broken down into its component pieces, and completely recycled into new commercial-grade carpet.

Shaw Industries made a commitment to cradle-to-cradle principles when it released its Ecoworx backing for modular carpet tile, a product that could be split from the nylon face fiber at a tile’s end of life and recycled into new backing. But when the company tried to apply the same technology to its broadloom carpets, it realized that the system simply did not translate. So the company’s materials engineers set to work creating a new system, one that dissolves the carpet into its original components.

The process involves shredding the carpet and immersing the pieces in a bio-based solution. The nylon face fibers detach and can be turned into caprolactum, which is the base for new nylon fibers. The solution-covered backing pieces are then heated; the solution evaporates and is reconstituted elsewhere, ready to be used again in the dissolution of more carpet. The backing pieces are then ready to be used to create new Ecoworx backing for new broadloom carpet. The ingenuity of the process intrigued the jury—“I was really impressed that they had the whole system worked out,” Craig Hodgetts said. “They have the chemistry going for them.”

The final element that had to be engineered was the carpet’s durability. The face fiber is made from fleece, which wears out quickly, so the engineers created a woven outer reinforcing layer and a special adhesive to extend the carpet’s life. Even so, John Ronan pointed out, “Carpet is a very limited life material. So, I think it makes it more important that you recycle it and how you recycle it.” But recycling only works if the carpet is returned to Shaw, and it is up to architects and contractors to do that.


  • Shaw Industries' Ecoworx team
    Shaw Industries' Ecoworx team

Ecoworx Backing for Broadloom Carpet

Manufacturer Shaw Industries, Dalton, Ga.—Jeff Wright (senior chemist, technical development); Rick Farrar, Joey Davis, Scott Urquhart (technicians, technical development); Kellie Ballew (sustainable development engineer); Zach Breedlove (backings development engineer); Jeff Segars (technical director)

2009 R+D Awards

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