Carpet Scrap Power

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Although the idea has been around for a long while, carpet manufacturers in Dalton, Georgia, the “Carpet Capital of the World,” think they have finally got it right this time. For years, the industry has sought a way to power its carpet and rug factories with the wasted rejects, overruns, and scraps that are an inevitable by-product of their manufacturing process. According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, 4.7 billion pounds of carpet are dumped in landfills each year, accounting for 1 percent of the nation’s total landfill space.

Various attempts to use carpet scraps to generate energy have failed because of problems working with the melted material, failure to meet clean air standards, and finally a serious explosion at one experimental facility. However, the rise in energy costs sent the industry and its engineers back to the drawing boards.

The result is a shiny new $10 million plant adjoining the Dalton factory that will shred the scraps and convert them into synthetic gas that can be burned much like natural gas. Shaw Industries, which owns the factory and the power plant, expects to save $2.5 million in fuel oil per year once the plant is in full operation. If the technology works as expected, many other carpet manufacturers will be standing in line for similar power plants.

—Environmental News Network

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Linda is responsible for the PERC web sites, media relations, the national journalism conference, and the media fellows program. She is author of Forest Fires, part of a series of  environmental education books for high school students. She also wrote and produced Square One, a newsletter that introduced grassroots environmentalists to market...
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