Adhesive aids carpet recycling

A new adhesive for use in carpet tiles that has been developed at York University could help dramatically reduce their impact on the environment.

The powerful adhesives currently used to bind the layers of carpet tiles together make it challenging to recycle them. In Europe, around 70 million kilograms of carpet-tile waste is incinerated or sent to landfill sites every year.

But the researchers in York University’s Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence have now created a new starch-based alternative that allows the layers to be separated and recycled.

Testing has shown that the new adhesive is just as strong as established products, can withstand steam cleaning and is also highly flame retardant.

Prof James Clark, director of the York Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, said: ’Carpet tiles are becoming increasingly popular so it is important we find ways of producing them in a more sustainable way.

’The results of our research provide a potential solution to a serious waste problem and also demonstrate in broader terms how end-of-life considerations can be incorporated into product design without sacrificing quality.’

A key characteristic of the product developed in York is that its adhesive quality can be switched on or off using a chemical treatment that is inexpensive and does not damage the tile materials.

The research was conducted in collaboration with the UK-based operation of global carpet tile manufacturer InterfaceFLOR.