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Journal of Global Economics

ISSN: 2375-4389

Open Access

Circular Economy Potential in the Carpet Industry

Abstract

Henning Wilts, Jana Nicolas, Monika Wirges and Klaus Wiesen

The circular economy approach implies significant different potentials, hurdles and barriers according to different industries and products – so far without systematically taking into account differences between sectors. This paper takes the example of the carpet industry that due to its so far low material recycling rates and resource intensity is highly interesting with regard to further promote and strengthen circular economy activities and outlining barriers as well as approaches for overcoming these. Focussing on the EU market, it analyses current material flows including end-of-life (EoL) treatment patterns as well as existing policy frameworks. In this paper three scenarios of carpet production are compared with regard to the material footprints: a nylon carpet with 100% virgin fibres, another nylon carpet with 50% virgin and 50% recycled fibres and a third carpet made from 100% recycled fibres. Considering the economic and environmental potentials of circular alternatives, the paper argues that focussing on increased recycling rates alone will not be beneficial but could rather lead to higher environmental burdens, if no significant design changes take place. Such changes need furthermore be accompanied by altered policy frameworks in order to make a circular carpet industry a viable option. These conclusions are based on analyses of the regulatory framework and treatment patterns and an environmental impact analysis of primary and secondary carpets.

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