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The Coalition has promised to consult on banning carpets to landfill during the course of this parliament says Simon Macaulay, Chairman of the Flooring Sustainability Partnership (FSP).

Simon Macaulay, from Anglo Recycling, has recently taken over as Chairman of the FSP.

The FSP was set up in 2009 by the Construction Products Association (CPA) at the behest of government who wanted an umbrella organisation for the flooring industry to talk to on the important environmental issues facing policy makers.

Simon believes the big issue that he faces in his time as Chairman is to offer up to the Coalition a coherent position on banning carpet to landfill.

“The government has said that they want to consult on this during the course of this parliament – and we are already two years in”, comments Simon.” The impression I am getting is that government would rather the industry came up with a voluntary producer responsibility position, taking responsibility for end of life disposal.

I don’t think they want legislation, as occurred with packaging, but rather something more like the “end of life vehicle directive” as happened in the automotive industry.

There, sensible timescales were built in to allow manufacturers to adapt and change and invest in the processes and systems required.

It is a time of austerity – money is tight and I doubt that government wants to be seen to be unsympathetic to major employers in their local communities.

That said, I do believe that the flooring industry has much to gain with consumers if we are seen to be taking the right steps to reduce waste going to landfill.

I am encouraged by the soundings I am taking across our industry. Major manufacturers such as Cormar Carpets, Abingdon Flooring, Desso and Forbo are putting significant sums into research and action coordinated by the industry’s own body,

Carpet Recycling UK (CRUK), and I think this is something the whole industry can be proud of.

The major distributor, Headlam, is also supporting the work financially as it recognises it is in our industry’s best interests for the longer term.

Already CRUK reports recycling/recovery is up at 17% from virtually zero five years ago.

So we are progressing – but I recognise that there is much work still to do as post consumer carpet is expensive and bulky to move around the country and the infrastructure and markets for disposal and recycling is still developing.

For example, in Europe there is an energy recovery infrastructure but in the UK, this is still in its infancy.

But I think we need to be on the front foot with government – generally key players in the industry are saying to me that we should be working towards a timescale to a ban – but giving us time to ensure it is practically achievable. After all, we still have 80% of the waste to deal with. We do not want to get into the situation found by the
plastics industry of setting up a timescale that it cannot then achieve!”

Simon Macaulay
Flooring Sustainability Partnership

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