Innovate Recycle has commenced construction of its first carpet recycling facility at Chelveston Renewable Energy Park. The company, which last year received a £2.35m award from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) Getting Building Fund, will be run solely on the wind, solar and hydrogen renewable power produced at the park.
The facility is the brainchild of Joseph Eccleston. On inheriting his family’s carpet business, the CEO of Innovate Recycle was struck was the sheer scale of waste generated by the carpet industry. With over 500,000 tonnes of waste carpet produced in the UK every year, and over half of this going to landfill, the statistics are ‘staggering’, he said. “Most of the rest is incinerated to produce energy or shredded and used in equine arenas. It is a waste of the retrievable polypropylene, environmentally unsustainable and I’m determined to change it. The alternatives to landfill involve us continuing to burn fossil fuel or shredding the carpet into tiny plastic and fibre shreds which are all too easily spread across our landscape.”
Eccleston soon discovered that no one in the UK had as yet tackled the problem and he set up a research and development project to find out how this could be solved. He sold the family business in 2016 to finance the project, and subsequently with his team successfully developed a clean, mechanical process to deconstruct and recycle polypropylene-based carpets at volume.
The output of the process consists of polypropylene pellets, which will be sold on to a range of sectors, including the automotive industry.