Innovate Recycle has opened the UK’s first carpet recycling facility in Northampton to transform the way the UK uses end-of-life carpets by recycling them into reusable materials. The company also announces its new accreditation programme and £750,000 in fresh funding led by Active Partners, taking its total investment to £7.6 million. This includes an investment of £2.35 million from the South East Midlands LEP, UK Government Getting Building Fund.
Only 2% of the 500,000 tonnes of end-of-life carpet produced in the UK each year is currently recycled. The rest goes into landfill or incineration, both of which are damaging to the environment and increasingly expensive due to capacity restraints, taxes and governmental legislation. The environmental impact of producing carpet is also significant, with every kilogram of carpet manufactured using virgin polymer producing 2 kilograms of CO2 emission impact. Recycling and retrieving the polypropylene used in carpets reduce this impact considerably by 1.6 kg of CO2 per kilogram of carpet.
In tandem, there is a rapidly growing demand for recycled polypropylene products as government legislation and consumer awareness around the negative environmental impacts of virgin plastic drive demands for recycled alternatives. With the recycled polypropylene market expected to reach £10.5 billion in 2029, the potential for recycled plastic production is vast.
Innovate Recycle is on a mission to transform the carpeting world with its scalable and sustainable solution for end-of-life carpets. As the first-of-its-kind facility in the UK, the Innovate Recycle team has developed a patented mechanical process which deconstructs polypropylene carpets, which make up 70% of the UK market. The process extracts the original polypropylene and calcium carbonate components, diverting carpets from landfill or incineration and reclaiming the component parts to be used to make a range of new products.
Founded in 2018 by Joseph Eccleston, who was born into the carpet industry, Innovate Recycle aims to influence the traditional carpet industry to improve its environmental impact and move towards a more circular future. One way it’s helping to achieve this is through the launch of its new accreditation programme, working alongside carpet manufacturers, which will verify the recyclability of individual carpet ranges and provide information for the consumer on how to recycle that carpet at end-of-life.
Innovate Recycle’s first facility is now fully operational and has already received strong demand from the carpet and waste handling industry, working with companies such as Designer Contracts, Biffa and Allwood Recycling Solutions. The new funding from Active Partners will be used to improve the quality of the component materials produced, secure buyers for the polypropylene and diversify the materials they can recycle. Over the next ten years the team plan to build a network of carpet recycling facilities across the UK.
Joseph Eccleston, Founder & CEO of Innovate Recycle said: “Of the 500,000 tonnes of end-of-life carpet produced every year only a small percentage is recycled. It’s a shameful waste of valuable resources that could be reused. Innovate Recycle is on a mission to transform how the carpet industry handles end-of-life products and to return materials, such as reclaimed polypropylene to the UK manufacturing supply chain. It’s fantastic to have our first site operational to start making a positive impact on the carpet industry. We’re delighted to be working with Active Partners on this next face of growth and welcome their investment, insight and input as we build our circular economy business.”
Tom Profumo, Partner at Active Partners added: “What Joe and his team have achieved in the last few years has been exceptional. Joe’s knowledge, passion and determination led him to create an important new contribution to the UK’s circular economy, creating more supply of recycled materials for reuse and driving vital change in the textile industry, starting with carpets. As investors backing businesses at the forefront of consumer behavioural change, we are excited to support Innovate Recycle to increase circularity in the textiles industry, providing more sustainable options to retailers and consumers alike.”