UArizona Housing Minimizes Environmental Impact Through Dorm Carpet Recycling Project

UArizona Housing Minimizes Environmental Impact Through Dorm Carpet Recycling Project

The University of Arizona’s department of Housing & Residential Life successfully minimized the environmental impact of a summer flooring renovation project in one of its dorms. 

Project Manager LeeAnne Maier worked directly with the carpet supplier, ShawContract, to develop a circular process of carpet installation and disposal at Pima Hall. Maier was able to organize a large-scale reclamation project for the old carpet, while also installing new carpet that is able to be recycled at the end of its lifecycle. The dorm’s old carpet was collected and stored in a manner compatible with Shaw’s recycling requirements and then shipped to the company for processing. 

Together, Housing and ShawContract recycled 18,000 square feet of carpet. Additionally, they downcycled another 6300 square feet of carpet into a waste to energy process. In total, 5,455 pounds of EcoWorx carpet was recycled. By recycling this carpet back into itself, this reduced the need to manufacture more virgin raw material for the replacement. The recycling project saved the equivalent of 140 gallons of gas, or enough to drive an average car across the country. 2,800 pounds of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (C02e) was also saved, which has the same environmental impact as planting an acre of trees.  

“By creating a strategy of circularity and making the decisions this summer to install Cradle to Cradle Shaw Contract material, there will be an opportunity of 8.75 tons to be recycled,” said Breanna Starr, Commercial Flooring Account Manager at ShawContract.

According to The Carpet and Rug Institute, 70% of floors in the U.S. are covered with carpets and rugs. However, carpet can have a large environmental footprint, especially during the disposal process.  The EPA estimates about 5 billion pounds of carpeting goes to landfills each year, comprising 1% to 2% of total annual landfill contributions. 

“This project is an example of the kind of positive outcomes that come from forethought and a good partner,” said Maier. “If you’re working on a carpet project, it is imperative to consider the entire lifecycle of your carpet and work to mitigate negative environmental impacts.”