Local News

July 17, 2010

Big Carpet opposes California measure

DALTON — Since 2002, the Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) has diverted more than 1 billion pounds of carpet from landfills.

Those efforts aren’t enough for one state. The California Legislature is considering a bill that would make carpet manufacturers meet recycling thresholds or not be allowed to sell their products in the state.

State Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, introduced the bill as a way “to grow the state’s carpet recycling industry by keeping waste carpet out of landfills” since the business has already created “many green jobs.”

“But we can create even more of these green jobs if we boost our efforts to recycle and reuse waste carpets,” Perez said in a press release. “As we focus on our key priorities of creating jobs, fixing the budget and reforming a broken system, being able to boost our environment at the same time is definitely a win-win.”

The bill also aims to reduce the cost of discarded carpet on local governments. State studies have found an estimated 1.3 million tons of carpet is disposed in California landfills annually, making up 3.2 percent of all solid waste.

“Typically, producers do not consider recycling possibilities, disposal costs and environmental impacts when designing products because public agencies and other entities, not the producers, bear those costs, which each year amount to hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to the legislation.

Many of the country’s largest carpet producers are opposing the requirements, including Beaulieu of America (based in Dalton), Mohawk Industries (headquartered in Calhoun) and Shaw Industries (based in Dalton). The Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute is opposing the bill as well. CRI representatives are currently lobbying against the legislation.

CRI President Werner Braun sent a two-page letter to Perez earlier this year. Braun wrote that more than $300 million has been spent on carpet recycling by the industry and private investors in recent years. He also believes the legislation would have a debilitating effect on the state’s economy.

“What we don’t need is legislation that would potentially jeopardize manufacturing jobs in your state,” Braun wrote. “As I am sure you are aware, the carpet industry is one of the few remaining American manufacturing industries and is part of the manufacturing base in California. This is the wrong time to place economic burdens on American manufacturers who are diligently working in a voluntary manner to solve this challenge.”

The bill requires carpet makers to prepare a “carpet stewardship plan” to show how they will collect waste carpet instead of sending it to landfills. It sets targets of 25 percent collection of discarded carpet by Jan. 1, 2017, and 50 percent by Jan. 1, 2022. Manufacturers would be prohibited from selling carpet in California after 2012 unless they have prepared a plan to meet the targets. Unauthorized businesses or individuals selling or attempting to sell carpet would face fines of up to $10,000.

The bill is currently in committee. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to have a hearing on the bill on Aug. 2. It can be viewed at www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/acsframeset2text.htm (type in 2398 for the bill number).

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