LIFE Project Cover Photo

Demonstration of separation and closed loop recycling of carpet waste into polymers for reuse in carpet production

Reference: LIFE12 ENV/NL/000269 | Acronym: LIFE ClosedLoopCarpet



The manufacturing of carpet is linear: virgin raw materials are used to make yarn, backing and other materials, which are then used to manufacture carpets. This process is not sustainable in the long run: it consumes large quantities of primary resources and adds considerably to waste sent to landfill. Europe discards annually approximately 1 600 kilotonnes of post-consumer carpet material. Some 60% of this material is sent to landfill, which is undesirable because the materials in carpets – especially nylon – are generally not biodegradable. Carpet waste not landfilled is generally incinerated in municipal waste incinerators or cement kilns. The main environmental impacts of carpets throughout their lifecycle are the use of energy and (scarce) resources for the production of raw materials, pollution of soil and groundwater caused by landfilling, and air pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases caused by incineration. Of these impacts, the first is by far the most important: the main environmental impact of carpets is related to the production of materials that are used in the manufacturing process, notably in the production of nylon yarn.

In 2009, DESSO established a take-back and recycling programme for used carpets in six EU countries. While the amount of carpet waste returned is steadily increasing, there are still some technical challenges in the separation of the waste material into reusable compounds.


The project will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of a separation line based on innovative shredding and cryogenic separation technology, capable of separating discarded carpet material into its primary resources, which can directly be used in the production of new carpets or for depolymerisation. The project expects to increase the purity of the final material from 85% to at least 97%. Since closed-loop carpet recycling is not possible without this process, this can be considered a breakthrough technology.

The project aims to:

  • Develop a cradle-to-cradle manufacturing process for carpets;
  • Produce recovered material of high quality, which is necessary for reuse in high-quality applications. For this, a sophisticated separation and purification line is required to ensure that the recovered materials, including polyamide (one of the main resources in carpet manufacturing), can be reused; and
  • Recycle each output material as much as possible of into new high grade materials.
  • Expected results: The project will put in place a pilot separation and purification line with a capacity of 92 tonnes/yr carpet waste. The pilot installation will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of the separation of carpet waste, provide data on the separation of carpet waste into homogeneous polymers and be a basis for optimisation of the separation process. Following the demonstration, investment in two full-scale separation lines is foreseen, each with a capacity of approximately 4 100 tonnes/yr carpet waste.

    The pilot installation will process approximately 100 tonnes of carpet waste (90 tonnes in 2015, 10 tonnes in 2016), leading to the recovery and reuse of near pure streams of constituent materials (polyamide, polypropylene, PET, bitumen and other materials).

    After upscaling, the overall benefits are expected to be:

  • Collection of 1% of the EU's carpet waste, i.e. 16 000 tonnes/yr;
  • Utilisation of 50% of this amount for material recycling, i.e. 8 000 tonnes/yr, thereby diverting the same amount from landfill and also reducing the use of virgin materials by 8 000 tonnes/yr;
  • A reduction in energy consumption of 17.6 million kilowatt hours per year; and
  • 8 500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions avoided per year.
  • In addition, the beneficiary expects that the increased market value of the recovered materials will reduce their price, which will in turn increase the market for the material because it will compete on price with other disposal options, such as landfill and incineration.


    Reference: LIFE12 ENV/NL/000269
    Acronym: LIFE ClosedLoopCarpet
    Start Date: 01/07/2013
    End Date: 31/12/2018
    Total Budget: 2,238,845 €
    EU Contribution: 1,119,422 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: DESSO Holding B.V.
    Legal Status: PCO
    Address: Taxandriaweg 15, 5142 PA, Waalwijk, Nederland
    Contact Person: Marco Van Bergen
    Tel: 31416684220

    LIFE Project Map



    • Plastic - Rubber -Tyre


    • waste recycling
    • plastic waste
    • industrial process
    • alternative technology


    Name Type
    DESSO Holding B.V. Coordinator
    DESSO B.V., The Netherlands Participant
    Desso Refinity BV, The Netherlands Participant