When Shaw Industries opened its Evergreen carpet recycling facility it closed a loop in the life cycle of its products, opened the door to an era of corporate innovation, and deepened the company’s investment in sustainability. Four of Shaw’s manufacturing plants have already achieved zero-waste-to-landfill performance, and the company is about to commission a full-scale gasification facility in Dalton, Ga., that will convert more than 76 million pounds of reclaimed carpet materials a year into steam and electricity for manufacturing there.
But the Evergreen facility in Augusta, Ga., is where Shaw has connected all the dots, taking reclaimed carpet (of any brand) from 50 collection points across the country and reprocessing it into Type 6 nylon for re-introduction into the manufacturing process.
Each collection point tests and sorts carpet by fiber type, then bales and ships the reclaimed materials to Evegreen where 85% is recycled into new carpet in a closed-loop process. The rest is used for energy (14%) or “downcycled” into other products (1%).
In the plant, Evergreen’s shredders feed reclaimed materials into an extruder that melts them before sending them on to a series of reactors where they’re vaporized, separating out the reusable nylon from other by-products that are reused for energy or other finished goods. The vapor is distilled and purified to virgin-quality caprolactam, the basis of Type 6 nylon, which is re-introduced into the production of new Anso nylon, Shaw’s Cradle to Cradle Silver–certified fiber at the heart of many of its products.