Sustainable Carpets: Everything You Need to Know

← Go to blog front page

This guide is designed to provide you with insight into the sustainable options available in carpets. So if you are mindful about the environmental impact of your carpet choices, we hope you will have greater knowledge of sustainable carpet alternatives, environmentally friendly carpet manufacturing processes, the importance of product life cycles and the circular economy, eco-friendly carpet materials and what to look for when it comes to the best sustainable carpets.

Choosing sustainable flooring has become increasingly important as the world faces the climate crisis and environmental damage. This guide is for you if you're in the market for an eco-friendly carpet option and care about your environmental footprint.

The focus is on making sustainable choices that align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and that includes environmentally sustainable flooring.

Table of contents

  1. Sustainable carpet: What are the options
    We look at what sustainable flooring is made of, what the sustainable production of carpets means, the responsible disposal of used carpets and closing the loop with recycling.
     
  2. What makes the best sustainable carpets?
    We explore what makes the best sustainable carpets and how they create the least environmental impact.

  3. Eco-friendly carpet materials
    We examine what’s what in eco-friendly carpet materials and how they fall in line with circular economy principles.

  4. Low VOC carpets explained 
    Low VOC emissions are an integral part of a sustainable carpet. We tell you what you need to know about low VOC carpets.

 

 

1. Sustainable carpet: What are the options

The carpet industry has undergone substantial technological advances, particularly when it comes to leaving the right footprint and making sustainability available to everyone. There’s now noticeably more environmentally friendly options to choose from and making a green choice in carpet is becoming more and more commonplace. 

6. What to look for in sustainability for carpets v2

 

What is sustainable flooring?

Sustainable flooring can be made from natural, renewable and biodegradable raw materials such as wool or bamboo. But sustainable carpets can also come from recycled goods such as plastic bottles and other industrial nylon waste. Fishing nets left in the ocean, textile waste from clothing production and carpets at the end of their life are materials used in environmental carpet solutions. What’s more, these materials can in turn be down-cycled when worn out and used further in furniture and automobile production.

Sustainable methods of production

In addition to using sustainable materials, sustainable carpet options will also entail eco-friendly manufacturing processes. This means that the yarn dyes, the water used for the dying, the yarn residues, the cardboard cones and the pallets are all recycled and reused. And the entire production is powered by renewable energy.

ReForm Terra Ecotrust_079474048_fishing net

Avoiding waste

A sustainable carpet is one that avoids incineration or landfill. It means all materials continue to be used in a closed loop and never become waste. And that also applies to the carpet at its life end - it should be able to be reused. One way of ensuring reuse is possible, is by using a single material for both the yarn and backing as it won’t need separating.

2. What makes the best sustainable carpets?

Perhaps you’re on the hunt for a carpet and keen to learn more about carpets with the least environmental impact. Here’s some of the best sustainable carpets we’ve come up with – and we explain why.

The Green Thread_010_vnEge Carpets’ range incorporates some of the best sustainable carpets. These include carpets from its Highline, Reform, Una and Rawline Scala concepts and that’s simply because all use a 100 percent regenerated and regenerable yarn. To top it off, most are fitted with a 100 percent recycled and down-cyclable carpet backing. Let’s examine this a little further.

The best sustainable carpets ramp up re-use

The yarn used in each of these carpet concepts is sourced from regenerated waste. Nylon products that have reached their life end, been disposed of in nature or industrial zones or are left-over waste from other manufacturing processes are refined into nylon chips and revived as nylon yarn. Later in its life, the nylon yarn can be stripped of its dye pigments and used again and again in future carpets. As such, the yarn completes a closed loop.

ege_sustainability_HC_EN

 

Backing your sustainable carpet with recycled products

It’s not just the yarn that counts. The best sustainable carpets also use recycled products for their backings. Waste such as plastic water bottles make an excellent felt carpet backing with sound reducing abilities. Regenerated materials such as these can be used again and again, removing waste from the process and scoring a Cradle to Cradle CertificationTM.

What’s in the air?

The best sustainable carpets will also feature low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) which are gases with potentially adverse effects. Indoor Air Comfort Gold certification is the surest way to tell if your carpet meets low product emission requirements.

3. Eco-friendly carpet materials

There’s a current drive to produce sustainable carpets that involve a circular production deserving of Cradle to Cradle certification. What does that mean for the materials that make up a carpet? 

The Green Thread_020_vnThe most sustainable carpet materials

The eco-friendliness of your carpet materials can be assessed against a number of criteria. For example, are the materials : 

  • renewable or recycled? 
  • able to be regenerated? 
  • durable? 
  • able to be applied to another purpose after its use?

Yarns friendly to the environment

With that in mind, let’s look at two types of eco-friendly yarns:

  • Recycled nylon yarn: Not surprisingly, these yarns are experiencing the biggest growth in carpets right now. Not only do they eliminate waste but perform well after use and are converted again into new yarn. Processing reused yarn also has a significantly less impact on global warming than material from oil. 
  • Wool is renewable, biodegradable and durable. However, it requires environmentally friendly production methods for it to be truly sustainable.

Backings: Make them green

Recycled objects such as plastic bottles make eco-friendly carpet backings, particularly given their ability to form parts of new PET products such as vehicle interiors and insulation materials.

The use of mono materials

A carpet that uses the same material for both its face and backing avoids the costly process of separation and purification. In this way, a mono material takes the recyclability of a carpet a long way further.

4. Low VOC Carpets

An integral part of a sustainable carpet is the low emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). What are VOCs and how do you know if your carpet is a low VOC carpet?

ReForm Transition Ecotrust_086405448_0864054x055_086405548_0864055x056_086405648 Leaf_001_vnThe recognisable smell of a new carpet is actually the potentially harmful gases and fumes released from the chemicals used in its manufacture. These are known as VOCs.

A low VOC carpet is manufactured to reduce the emission of VOCs. They have been made to avoid materials that include chemicals such as 4-PCH, aromatic compounds and formaldehyde that are found in PVC, rubber backings and bonding agents.

Many certification programs around the world assess VOC emissions from carpets to varying standards. Your best guide is the Indoor Air Comfort Gold Certification to ensure your carpet fulfills low emissions requirements.

Conclusion

We know that choosing sustainable flooring has become increasingly important for both you and your clients. The environmental impact of choices are now driving decisions. We hope this guide has given you greater knowledge about the eco-friendly alternatives available in carpet choices - the options of environmentally sustainable carpet materials, more eco-friendly manufacturing processes and the possibilities to achieve a circular economy with recycled and recyclable products.

← Go to blog front page

Written by Mette Frydensbjerg Jacobsen: Mette is ege carpets' fashion savvy communications expert. Her keen eye for the sweet spot between beautiful carpets and great stories makes her our favourite pick for inspiring you with Project of the Month.

Trends and news, yes please

Design inspiration delivered straight to you