In the world of post-consumer carpet (PCC) recycling only a handful of companies simultaneously play the roles of the collector, sorter, processor and manufacturer.
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CARE Annual Report, 2012
Working in partnership with Reliance Carpet Cushion, Los Angeles (LA) Fiber Company happens to be one of 7% of companies that handle PCC from collection all the way to manufacture. In doing so Stan and Ron Greitzer, owners and founders, manage to avoid one of carpet recycling’s highest hurdles — finding markets for PCC. LA Fiber did not start out with carpet as their premier source material however.
Founded in 1983, LA Fiber’s original market was processing PET bottles into fiberfill, eventually transitioning to recycling textile waste from the garment industry. The company had plenty of feedstock until 1998 when revisions to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) pushed American textile companies to move processing offshore.
In the face of a serious setback, LA Fiber recognized a huge opportunity; once again capitalizing on the age-old adage ‘one mans trash is another man’s treasure,’ Stan and Ron converted their fiber-reclaiming machinery to handle and process PCC. With over five billion pounds of carpet being sent to landfills across the nation per year, LA Fiber acquired an essentially endless supply stream.
Beyond recognition of a great source material, the Greitzers also realized an important outlet, Reliance Carpet Cushion. Founded back in 1931 by Stan’s father, Ron’s grandfather, for eighty years Reliance was one of the largest suppliers of foam, fibers, spring coils, etc. to top brand mattress companies including Serta and Sealy. With respect to Reliance Carpet Cushion, although it had been around since the 1960s, it wasn’t until Reliance’s partnership with LA Fiber that the product was able to transform from its original makeup of scrap foam and synthetic fibers to become the 100% recycled eco-carpet cushion it is today.
Beyond material recovery, Reliance Carpet Cushion is made with no chemical additives, meets stringent standards for indoor air quality, and is resistant to mold, mildew, and bacterial growth. For buildings striving for LEED credit, Reliance Carpet Cushion gets points for recycled content (MR 4.1/4.2) and low emissions (EQ 4.3).
Demand for the earth-friendly carpet cushion continues to grow but while Reliance Carpet Cushion is LA Fiber’s primary outlet, it is not their only one. Processed Nylon 6 and 6,6, PP and PET fibers are also sold as engineered resins, contributing to products ranging from automobiles to decorative pillows. Today LA Fiber is one of the principal West coast recyclers of carpet and other textiles, recovering over 60 million pounds of PCC a year.
Their dedication to carpet recycling is not unnoticed. Back in 2003 LA Fiber was the first company to be named by CARE as the Recycler of the Year, setting the bar high as a true trailblazer for success in carpet recycling. LA Fiber continued to acquire more honors including being awarded CARE’s Person of the Year in 2006 (Ron), for Innovations in Carpet Recycling by the US EPA in 2008 and another CARE Recycler of the Year award in 2010, among other honorable distinctions.
As for the future, California has an ambitious goal of zero waste by 2020 and Ron sees bulky items such as carpet and furniture as key to making this intention a reality. Fortunately, since AB2398’s passage into law by former Governor Schwarzenegger in September 2010 PCC recycling carpet in California is becoming easier every day. Similar to all laws and ordinances, Ron recognizes that AB2398 is not without its growing pains but he believes the extra funding has made a big difference for carpet recycling, not to mention job growth.
Overall, AB2398 has made some major strides in a short period of time, especially considering all systems, procedures and protocols for its administration had to be created from scratch. As the Carpet Stewardship Organization in charge of administering AB2398 in its formative years, CARE is dedicated to ensuring its continued success and is excited to see how the innovative legislation continues to benefit inspiring entrepreneurs such as LA Fiber.