Shaw recycles 121 million pounds of carpet

Shaw recycles 121 million pounds of carpet

October 8th, 2011 by Carey O'Neil in Business Around the Region

Glen Jordan loads spools of thread at a Shaw Industries carpet plant.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

• What: Carpet recycling program

• Company: Shaw Industries

• Location: Dalton, Ga.

• How it's green: In its recently released environmental sustainability report, Shaw reported it recovered 121.3 million pounds of carpet in 2010, broke down the fibers and the backing to their basic parts and reused them in new product. That's up from 89.4 million pounds in 2009.

• Why do it this way? Oil plays a large part in carpet production, so recycling used materials lessens natural resource consumption and keeps carpeting out of landfills. Shaw uses the recovered materials to produce and sell "green" carpet, which many consumers prefer.

• What's the cost? Shaw recently built a new carpet reclamation facility, and though spokeswoman Emma Williams couldn't say how much the company spends on green initiatives, she said they have a large effect on the company. "It's really evolved and has grown into a key piece of our business," she said.

• Advice for others considering green initiatives: The only way to be sustainable is to find places for a company to save money while being green, according to Williams. By looking into carpet recycling, Shaw found ways to use waste materials in carpet cushion and to sell it to the automobile industry. "It's recognizing opportunity," Williams said. "We're recognizing these are things we need to do, and we're making sure we have a strong case for them from the get go."

• Is environmentalism an essential part of the business and why? For years, Shaw has looked into ways to make the company more environmentally friendly, and Williams said the search will never end. "You can think about sustainability in many ways. It's social responsibility, and it's economic responsibility, as well," she said. "It is the right thing to do. Responsible use of materials and providing responsible ways to recycle speaks to our core values as an organization."