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All posts in “vocs in carpet”
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Melbourne Carpet Recycling

How do I dispose of my old carpet?

Melbourne carpet recycling is not as simple as you would think.  In this day and age, everyone seems to be aware of environmental issues such as global warming and the need to reduce our carbon foot print.  Given that the average life cycle of carpet is 5-10 years, many new home openers and renovators are opting for more sustainable flooring options.  We recycle glass, plastics, paper, garden waste, wood, rubber tyres and so on.  However when it comes to old carpet there are fewer options, for recycling.

Business studies in Australia,  have shown an overall decrease in carpet manufacturing over the past five years.  However the boom in the property market has created a higher demand for carpet, from the housing construction sector.  Particularly for multi – unit apartment and townhouse developments.  Which makes me wonder where is all that carpet going to go in 5-10 years time when it needs replacing?  What happens to the carpet in the properties when they are demolished to make way for these new developments?  Given that about 70% of all floor covering sales in the developed world, are for carpet, what options are available for Melbourne carpet recycling?

carpet recycling MelbourneOptions for Melbourne carpet recycling.

1. Disposal is the least preferred option.  Used carpet is now one of the top 10 landfill items.  Synthetic carpets do not break down over time and woolen carpets do decompose but they produce methane gas during this process.  Methane is a dangerous green house gas, which is the unfortunate by product of landfill decomposition.  Disposal of old carpets at the local tip will incur fees.

2. Reuse old carpet for many different purposes, such as;

  • weed matting in the garden
  • floor mats for your car, home, shed or workshop
  • lining and insulation for the kids cubby house or your work shed
  • pets bedding
  • donate to a charity
  • freecycle
  • donate to family members or friends
  • If your carpet is in good condition you may be able to sell it privately or to a recycling business.  In most major Australian cities there are businesses who buy good quality, used carpet, clean it and resell it.

3. Recycle your old carpets depending on their age, composition and condition.  According to Planet Ark, there is currently no commercial recycling plants for carpet in Australia, even though, most carpet fibres are recyclable. Consumers have become more environmentally aware, therefore, carpet manufacturers are becoming more conscious of their responsibilities. However, we still have a long way to go here in Australia.  Carpet manufacturers such as Ontera, Interface and Caviler Bramworth, do offer a “take back” system for carpet they have manufactured.  However, only carpet tiles are recycled into new carpet. There is no recycling for broadloom carpet.  Shaw, have a range of carpet made from recycled materials, called Ecoworx.  They offer a guarantee that, when it is time to change the carpet, Shaw, will pick up your old carpet, and recycle it.

Can Melbourne carpet be recycled?

Currently these carpet recycling systems, are only for nylon carpet.  New carpet is made by recycling nylon into yarn, and then reusing it to make new carpet.  Interface, have devMelbourne carpet reuseeloped a new carpet recycling facility, which is the first of its kind in Australia.  Previously they had to send carpet to the USA for processing.  Infra red scanners are now available in Australia and are  used to identify carpet tile fibres.  If nylon is the main fibre, then the tiles are be broken down into their individual components and the nylon is removed and used to make nylon yarn.

The backing is also recycled, however it still needs to be sent to the USA for processing.  Interface are hoping to have a new facility to process the backing, here in Australia by 2017.  Interface, estimates that they will be able to process around 500-600 tonnes of carpet per year.

There are signs that the industry is looking for new ways of manufacturing carpets so that are sustainable and recyclable.  Cradle to Cradle accreditation is one such way of ensuring manufacturers examine the whole life cycle of a carpet; from source materials to manufacturing, installation and end of life recycling. In the meantime however, we need to make sure we get the most out of our carpets and maintain them for maximum life span.  Regular, professional carpet cleaning is the best way to maintain your carpet and keep it looking good for years to come.  Please contact us for a booking or any carpet cleaning inquiries.

Carpet cleaning service may not be necessary with new technology
Carpet Cleaning Service to become obsolete in near future?

You may never have to use a carpet cleaning service again!

Self Cleaning Carpet: Is it a possibility or just science fiction?

Have you ever wished there was an easier way to clean your carpet?  Not just the endless vacuuming, but also the hassle of  having to find a good carpet cleaning service for your annual spring clean? Who do you hire, who do your trust, how much do you pay, will they do a good job…?  Just imagine yourself living in a home with self cleaning carpet!  Just imagine a quick once over with a light bulb and away you go – no more stains, no more wet carpet, no more stress!  What? A light bulb? Yes, that’s right, this might be the way of the future and it might not be as far fetched as it sounds.  Keep reading to find out how a light bulb and nanotechnology might one day revolutionise carpet cleaning service.

self cleaning carpet cleaning serviceThe Research

Researchers at Melbourne’s RMIT University are currently developing a technology which might well do away with the household washing machine.  They are working on creating fabric for clothing, which is self cleaning.  The researchers have found that by growing nanostructures on fabric, they can create textiles that self clean.  The nanostructures, when exposed to light, release a burst of energy which then destroys organic matter such as stains.  The idea is, that if you spill something on your clothing, you can just hang it out in the sunshine or under a light to remove the stain.  Dr Rajesh Ramanathan, is one of the lead researchers in the Nanotechnology Research Facility at RMIT.  His team has found the copper and silver based nanostructures are the best at absorbing light.  When they absorb light, energy is created and this in turn degrades organic matter such as stains.

So far the testing has only been on small amounts of fabric and certain organic stains.  Currently the team is working on testing theCarpet Cleaning Service technology on more consumer related stains such as red wine and food to work out what quantities of nanostructures are required.  According to Dr Ramanathan,

“We have some understanding, but we will need more understanding of the system [and] how it works, and once we have that understanding hopefully in the near future we should be able to have self-cleaning textiles, so we can throw the washing machine of the house,”

In the future this type of technology could also be used to destroy super bugs which are currently resistant to most known anti bacterial treatments.  They have begun testing on super bugs and so far the results have been promising. I wonder if this technology will also reduce VOCs in carpet?

The future carpet cleaning service?

To date, the research has focused purely on stain resistant clothing textiles, however why stop there?  One day, nano structures could be grown onto carpet fibres and carpets could become self cleaning.  All you would need then, is a light emitting machine to go over the carpet and BAM! No more stains!  How revolutionary would that be?  This is definitely some research to watch, and who knows, what other uses it might have!

In the meantime, you will still need to vacuum your carpet regularly and have them professionally cleaned at least once a year, so contact us for a quote (before we become extinct!).

carpet steam cleaning in Melbourne
How to deal with VOCs in carpet

Why you should be aware of VOCs in carpet and how to deal with them.

Ahhh… love the smell of VOCs in carpet in the morning – said no one ever!

VOCs in carpetWhat are VOCs in Carpet? If you have ever bought a brand new, off the factory floor, never been owned before, car; then you will be familiar with that “new car smell”.  Many people love this smell, there are even car deodourisers called “new car smell”!  The same however, cannot be said for that “new carpet smell”.  If you have ever had carpets installed in your home or office then you have probably experienced the “toxic” fumes otherwise known as VOCs  that can be hazardous to your health. What causes the fumes and how can you minimise the impact on the health of you and your family? How do you deal with VOCs in carpet?

 

What are VOCs and why are they in my new carpet?

VOCs are Volatile Organic Compounds (chemical contaminants made up mainly of carbon and hydrogen) and are found in almost all manufactured products, including soft furnishings, cosmetics, clothing, plastic bottles, paint and other building materials, cars and clothing, just to name a few.  At room temperature, these VOCs are released into the environment in the form of gas which evaporates into the air – this process is sometimes called off-gassing. In the case of synthetic carpets, most but not all of these VOCs are destroyed in the manufacturing process, as the carpet is “baked” at 150-170c in a finishing oven. Carpet is, therefore, the lowest emitter of VOCs of most common flooring options. When you install new carpet in your home however, there will still be some low level VOC emissions for a few days, especially when you add in the VOCs from the underlay and adhesives used in the installation process.

Are VOCs in carpet dangerous?

While there is no conclusive evidence that exposure to VOCs causes long term health issues, there is plenty of evidence pointing towards, short term effects experienced by people exposed to high levels of VOCs.  These short term effects include, head aches, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, skin and throat irritations and so on.  These effects vary depending on the type of chemicals, the concentration level of the VOCs and how long the person is exposed to them. A person’s age, gender, general health condition and exposure to other chemicals can all play a role determining the effects VOCs have on their health.  People who experience asthma or other respiratory conditions or are particular sensitive to chemicals, should try to avoid exposure to VOCs.

Studies involving mice, have shown that long term exposure to high levels of VOCs can increase the risk of cancer, liver and kidney disease in animals and is thought to also affect humans in the same way.  However there is not a lot of information on the long term health effects of low level household exposure from VOCs in carpet.

Scientists at organisations such as the EPA are still researching what are the specific chemicals released by carpets and whether or not they are dangerous for the average person.  Generally the VOCs in carpets are low level and any short term effects go away once the person stops being exposed to the VOCs.  However, until more is known about the impact on our health, the EPA recommends exposure to VOCs is kept at a minimum.

VOCs in Carpet AustraliaHas the Australian Government set standards for VOCs in carpets?

There are no specific regulations set for VOCs in carpets or even general indoor air quality by the Australian Government, except for regulations on some specific substances in the workplace. There is no single Australian Government authority to oversee indoor air quality in Australia as it would be difficult to regulate and enforce set standards in private homes. Individual state authorities and organisations, however are able to offer recommendations and guidelines based on information and research into air pollutants and their impact on our health. The Australian Carpet Institute is one such organisation, setting standards for carpet chemical emissions and carpet labeling.  The Green Building Council of Australia is another organisation who sets standards and rating systems for low VOC emissions in building materials.

How can I minimise the health risks of VOCs in carpet? Vocs in carpet green cleaning

To minimise the risks from VOCs in carpet, it is important to ensure good ventilation when using or installing products and materials which emit VOCs.  Ventilation means bringing in air from outside to mix with the indoor air and can be as simple as opening lots of windows.

  • New carpet can emit VOCs in low levels, for several days after being installed, so it is worth asking your carpet supplier or installer if the carpet can be left unrolled for a few days at their warehouse before installation. This will allow some of the VOCs time to disappate before bringing the carpet into your home.
  • It is also important to run your ventilation system for at least 72 hours after carpet installation.
  • Where possible, open the windows and position fans next to the windows to blow in the fresh air.
  • Close the doors to the areas with new carpet and try to stay out of those rooms for a few days.
  • It could even be a good time to take a short holiday!

The Australian Carpet Institute, has developed a standard for carpet with low VOC emissions, called the Green Label Plus.  These “green” carpets have lower VOC emissions than other synthetic carpets and are definitely worth considering.  However you should make sure the underlay and adhesive used by the carpet installer are also “green” and have low VOC emissions, as often the glue can emit more VOCs than the carpet!  Natural fibres such as wool and cotton with backing made from Jute or other grassy fibres are usually much longer lasting, and  lower in VOCs than carpets made from synthetic fibres such as nylon or olefin which are usually backed with potentially harmful PVC plastic.

How do I maintain my new carpet and keep it VOC free?

Once you have installed your new carpet and aired out the rooms so there are no more VOC emissions, you need to ensure you vacuum your carpet regularly with a vacuum cleaner that has a filter and good, strong suction.  Carpet is a great filter itself, as it traps VOCs, from other sources, as well as dirt and dust.  However things like, poorly filtered vacuum cleaners or the kids playing on the carpet, cause agitation and the VOCs and dust can become air born again.  It is important, therefore, to remove them with regular, well filtered, vacuum cleaning.  The Australian Carpet Institute of also recommends hot water extraction using low emission VOC cleaning agents as the best method of cleaning carpets.  Hot water extraction (often referred to as steam cleaning) uses heat and water to wash the carpet fibres and strong suction (extraction)  the remove the VOCs and dirt.VOCs in carpet after carpet cleaning Melbourne

For more information on cleaning and maintaining your new carpet, please contact Black Gold Carpet Cleaning on 0403 254 080