Thursday, August 27, 2009

Resurrecting Dirty Carpet The CRI-SOA Way

Sunflower dirty carpet cleaning originally
uploaded by Sunflowercarpetny
Sunflower dirty carpet cleaningI got to spend my morning wallowing in dirty carpet and, to be honest, I’ve never been prouder of what we do here at CRI. I’ll elaborate briefly, but I don’t want to spill all the beans, and I promise you Bethany will have a full blog report on it soon.

As a way to demonstrate how good products and equipment can be the difference-maker in whether a carpet lives or dies, the Carpet and Rug Institute oftentimes likes to find examples of poorly-maintained carpet and introduce them to our modern-day Dr. Frankensteins: quality carpet cleaners. These are professionals who can take carpet ready to pulled off life-support and raise it from the dead.

This morning I got to join these professionals as they undertook a revival of, quite honestly, one of the nastiest-looking carpets I’ve seen. Again, I’m going to avoid the details because we’ll provide them in a future blog post, but let me tell you: a professional carpet cleaner using good products such as those certified under CRI’s Seal of Approval program can work miracles. I witnessed one today.

CRI often gets involved when we come across such carpet and it gives us a way to document the before-and-after difference. We are able to use these examples as the basis for white papers in which we provide photographic evidence of the revival. What is it they say: a picture is worth a thousand words?

And while all of this good and well in serving CRI as we try to educate consumers on proper cleaning and maintenance, the source of my pride in CRI was the actual help we were able to provide this business owner. Here he was, with a carpet that really took away from his business’ overall décor (and in the business world, sometimes the first impression is made simply by looking down), finding himself at a crossroads with a choice he obviously didn’t want to make in today’s still-tough economic times: invest more money (a lot of money) into a new flooring.

Not only were our professionals able to make this carpet look like the day it did when they rolled it off the truck, but more importantly, we gave the business owner a plan to keep that way. The guy’s carpet wasn’t nasty so much from neglect (he had it professionally extracted six months ago) as it was from the non-ability to provide preventative measures such as walk-off mats.

We actually showed him that for as bad as the carpet looked in the before picture, the amount of actual dirt pulled from the carpet wasn’t indicative of how bad it looked appearance wise. In other words, all of this dirt we pulled out came from the surface of the carpet, and the cleaning six months ago had done a good job of removing the deeply embedded soil in it.

We set the guy up with a scheduled plan that would keep it from morphing back six months from now into that eye sore that welcomed us this morning. We gave him the preventive measures to help ensure that. And ultimately, along with the smile on his face, we gave him back a beautiful piece of carpet that he was so proud of when he put down in new construction.

And other than me getting a little bit dirty in the process, it was a simple chore. Good products, good equipment, a good plan, and good trained (other than me) professionals working these SOA products are miracle workers every time.

The problem we have is that CRI does not have a multi-million dollar marketing budget that would be needed to educate the masses, so we have to tackle it one dirty carpet at a time. And I might be a little biased, but we do a great job doing just that!

- James

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jennifer L. Mendez, CRI Director of Government Affairs

Jennifer L. MendezMeet Jennifer L. Mendez, CRI’s Director of Government Affairs.

The carpet industry may be concentrated in North Georgia, but the issues that affect it happen on national and even international levels. Laws passed in state legislatures, city councils and county boards, and mandates from federal and state regulatory agencies can all influence the way carpet is manufactured and used. The Carpet and Rug Institute works very hard to stay abreast of hot button issues. Communicating with our members about legislation and proposed regulations of interest to them is something we take very seriously.

The woman who keeps CRI in the loop on all of this is CRI’s Government Affairs Director Jennifer Mendez. Jennifer lives in the Washington, DC area and works out of CRI’s Washington office. Jennifer is responsible for directing government relations on the federal, state, and local levels, and interacting with government agencies and other Washington-based trade associations.

Not merely an observer of public policy, Jennifer is a hands-on advocate for carpet. In addition to everything else she does, Jennifer is the Private Sector Co-chair of the Environmental Health Working Group of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and is a member of ALEC’s Natural Resources Task Force. She is a member of the Council of State Governments (CSG) and sits on their Environment Committee. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the State Government Affairs Council (SGAC) and is Chair of their 2009 Leaders Policy Conference.

Jenn is active in her church and community, but her favorite job is being a mom to a lovely teenage daughter. As busy as she is, I admire the way Jennifer handles herself with grace and good humor. She’s a smart and beautiful Spanish-speaking bundle of energy, and everyone here at CRI Dalton looks forward to her visits.

Jennifer talked to me about her job and her life as a carpet industry champion.

BR: The Government Issues Committee's strategic goal 2009 is "no adverse legislation passed". That's a tall order. How are we doing?

JM: So far, so good - no adverse legislation has passed since I started with CRI. But it is a tough job, especially when there are states out there that have attempted to enact legislation that “de-selects” carpet. My job is to educate the legislators and their staffs - give them the correct information and help them make informed policy decisions.

BR: Do you ever feel like the little Dutch Boy with not enough fingers to stop the leaks?

JM: Sometimes it can seem a little overwhelming. I’m the only CRI staff member who focuses solely on issues at the state level. At times that includes state, county, city governments, and even school districts. That’s a lot for one person to deal with. Certain geographic locations are more of a challenge than others. Fortunately I manage our contract lobbyists and prioritize. That’s the only way to achieve our goals.

BR: What's your elevator speech on carpet?

JM: To lighten things up, I always like to say that CRI is evidence that there truly is an association for everything! I’m often asked what our issues are, and I explain that they are for the most part environmental. I talk about all the voluntary, proactive programs that CRI has undertaken, such as Green Label Plus, the ANSI/NSF140 Carpet Sustainability Assessment Standard (sustainability is the big buzz word these days – so that’s always a hit!), CRI’s Seal of Approval Program (SOA) and The Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE). I know, that seems like a lot for the elevator, but I talk quickly (remember, I’m a Yankee – we talk fast!)

BR: What is the best way to present information in order to get a Congressman's attention? The worst?

JM: The best way: Make it short and to the point and make sure they know how whatever issue you’re addressing affects their constituents.

The worst way: Make it long, technical and not at all about them!

BR: How do you like Dalton?

JM: I travel frequently, and I enjoy coming to Dalton. The people are friendly and welcoming, and I really enjoy the time I get to spend with the CRI staff - what an amazing group of people!! Coincidentally, I grew up in Dalton, Pennsylvania (my mom still lives there), although the name of the town is where the similarities end. The Dalton where I grew up had a population of a little over 1,000 people - no sidewalks and the shopping consisted of Brownie’s General Store and a pharmacy….

BR: How do you do it all?

JM: Prioritize, prioritize, and prioritize!! I work on the issues that I need to be REACTIVE on and then look for opportunities to be PROACTIVE. I’m a big list-maker and I check things off as I complete them…. A big part of my job is networking - meeting people, knowing who to go to for help in different states. As my network grows, my ability to accomplish things and promote the industry also grows. I thoroughly enjoy my job and I really believe that helps me get things done. I never wake up dreading going to work. My job is fun and someone once told me, “If your job isn’t fun, you’re in the wrong job”!!! (This is a favorite saying of CRI President Werner Braun.)

Thank you, Jennifer. Safe travels, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

- Bethany

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Carpet Industry Sustainability and Stewardship in Journal of Greenbuilding

Journal of Greenbuilding Vol 4 No 2Journal of Greenbuilding Publishes Article on Carpet Industry Sustainability and Stewardship by CRI Sustainability Manager Jeff Carrier.

Sustainability and environmental impact are subjects of significant importance to the carpet industry, which is one reason why the Carpet and Rug Institute values the insights and knowledge of Sustainability Manager Jeff Carrier.

Jeff is known around CRI as a pretty knowledgeable guy - a font of information on the environmental programs, processes, and certifications that comprise the assessment and evaluation of sustainability as it relates to carpet. To keep him humble, we tease him a little bit about his military-style haircut, a holdover from his former life in the army and as a police officer here in Dalton, Georgia.

Jeff’s latest accomplishment comes in the form of an article that appears in the current issue, Volume 4: Number 2: Spring 2009, of the Journal of Greenbuilding, a publication aimed at engineers and other professionals in residential and commercial construction. The article, titled, Connecting the Pieces – Carpet Industry Sustainability and Stewardship, is a comprehensive overview of the carpet industry’s role in environmental issues, from the 1950s, when CRI member Milliken & Company worked with the newly-established U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help establish water use standards for the carpet industry, to the release of CRI’s 2008 Sustainability Report outlining the carpet industry’s impressive environmental accomplishments. The article details how, over the years, the carpet industry has vastly reduced its environmental footprint, from reducing water and energy and limiting greenhouse gas emissions, to increasing the use of renewable energy and recycled materials.

Jeff CarrierIn the article, Jeff notes that sustainability can be a patchwork process. One carpet manufacturer can perform well in one area, such as waste reduction, but only marginally in an area like water usage. He points out that the ANSI/NSF 140 2007e Carpet Sustainability Assessment Standard pulls the carpet industry’s disparate efforts together into one comprehensive initiative.

The most important point Jeff wants readers to take away from the 6,ooo-word article is that in terms of environmental leadership, the carpet industry is way out in front of other building product producers, as well as U.S. manufacturers overall. He offers as an example the number of carpet manufacturing facilities that are certified by the International Standards Organization’s ISO 14001 standards.

The ISO 14001 series of standards guides manufacturers in establishing Environmental Management Systems within their facilities. ISO 14001 registrations are not common in the world’s manufacturing, but are widespread within the carpet industry.

I urge you to read the entire article. It’s well-written, and it certainly helped me to “connect the pieces” about carpet sustainability.

The Journal of Greenbuilding is published by Richmond, Virginia-based College Publishing. Thanks to publisher Stephen Mosberg for providing a pdf of Jeff Carrier’s article to use on the CRI blog.

Congratulations, Jeff!

- Bethany

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Las Vegas Clark County School District Loves Carpet!

Cherry on the Railroad originally uploaded by moogs.
Cherry on the RailroadI have to tell you: one of the things we do best here at Carpet and Rug Institute is orchestrate meetings. We might not do it with beers on the White House lawn, but, brother, we can put together a productive meeting or two. One of my all-time favorites happened a few years ago in Las Vegas. This was about the time when the Clark County School District which houses the Las Vegas area was going through the sixth year of a 10-year bond that was cranking out 12-16 new schools a year to meet the demands of the growing population. At the time, the Clark County School District was the 5th largest school district in the country, had some 244,000 students enrolled and was the fastest-growing school district in the land. I mean, we’re talking about averaging a new school opening once a month!

Werner Braun and I were headed to Vegas for a tradeshow and decided to see if we could meet with the Facility Manager for the school system to make sure he had all the up-to-date information on carpet - like Carpet Makes The Grade In Schools - and see if there was anything we could do help sway them into using as much of the fuzzy stuff as possible.
As any good sales person would, we went into the meeting with Fred Smith, the Assistant Superintendent and Facility Construction Manager for the system, armed with all the carpet ammunition we had. When we walked away from our hour-long meeting, we took with us two of the biggest smiles you could imagine.

Before we even got started, Mr. Smith proudly told us that ALL their facilities have carpet and they just signed a big contract with a CRI member. They also had a contract with another CRI member as well. They are very pleased with their carpet and specify it in all their new construction. He told us the school’s central office had gotten very few complaints over the past few years regarding carpet and/or its role in indoor air quality. They have addressed a few with some teachers on occasion, but they are mostly mold problems and that it wasn’t the carpet at issue but the moisture and dirt problem that had to be rectified.

Of course, this was music to our ears. Especially back then when moldaphobia was at its height. He went on to tell us the worst thing about building a school in Las Vegas was the dust problem of the desert. They had also had a significant increase in humidity levels over the past few years. In the last 10 years, relative humidity has risen from 4% outdoors and 30% indoors to 16 % outdoors and over 50% indoors. Huge population growth is the attributing factor (more irrigation, swimming pools etc.)

At the time, of the 227 current schools in the district, 130 of them had been built since 1990. Mr. Smith said that about half of the schools were less than 15 years old and the rest of them were over 30 years old, so they had to confront maintenance problems from two fronts: old vs. new. Based on the availability of funds for new construction ($3.5 billion bond for 88 new schools in 10-year period beginning in 1998) the most important thing for them was paying more money up front (life cycle costs) because the money was readily available for that, but it wouldn’t be near as available for remodeling and upkeep of facilities in the future. Obviously it was important the upfront money was well spent with long term consequences in focus.

That’s when he relayed one of our all-time favorite anecdotal stories we continue to use here at CRI. Mr. Smith said some of his operational folks (custodians etc.) had complained that carpet was too expensive to maintain on a yearly basis and they preferred the ease and management of VCT flooring. Central office bowed to their wishes on a few schools. Less than a year after the new VCT installation, those same operational folks said they were wrong and wanted their carpet back. It was easier to maintain and cheaper. They got their carpet back.

We relish these type stories because no matter how much we preach the cost and ease of maintenance of carpet in today’s tight budget environment, having “real-life” stories such as these can really drive home the point.

For Clark County School District, Mr. Smith said his entire goal in regards to the physical environment of the school facilities was to take into consideration what was the very best for the learning environment. Carpet met those goals. Mr. Smith mentioned the slip/fall benefits as well as the acoustical benefits. “It’s not only about the noise reduction in the classroom, but also in the hallways. Not only does it soften the noise when kids are going between classes, but even more importantly, when the halls are empty and classes are being taught, it reduces the noise of one kid or small groups making their way through the hallways so as not to disturb the classrooms.’’

We left that meeting that day having to lug back a lot of information we had prepared to sell to them because they were already sold. Usually I despise having to lug things back, but the fact I got this great endorsement for carpet and a “real-life” anecdote that continues to have life was well worth the trouble of packing things back into my suitcase for the trip home.

And here’s the real cherry on top: Fred Smith has since left the Las Vegas school system and heads up the Los Angeles Unified School District in a similar capacity, the nation’s largest school system!

~ James

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Carpet and Formaldehyde: Debunking Urban Legends

The Nest: Is Your House Making You Sick?A truly remarkable thing about the Internet is how a single news story that contains bogus and inaccurate information about carpet (or anything else for that matter) can spread like wildfire, appearing over and over in different web sites and blog posts faster than you can shake a stick at it. Indeed, in my job I often feel like I am playing a world-wide-web-based version of Whac-A-Mole, bashing headlines instead of critters, only to see the same silly story pop up again somewhere else. In this case, it's about carpet and formaldehyde.

The story, which was sent to me by several different people, originated at The Nest, a website for newlyweds setting up their first homes. The story had been picked up by a wire service and appeared in newspapers around the country.
The story lists various interior products, including paint and hardwood floors, warning consumers to “beware” of various aspects of the products. The section on carpet reads:

Beware: Chemicals in your carpets: Carpets and carpet cushions can contain VOC’s and emit formaldehyde, a colorless, pungent-smelling gas. According to the EPA, formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in animals and may cause cancer in humans. Health effects include eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; and severe allergic reactions.

Take care: Look for carpets made from natural fibers with little or no chemical treatment. Shaw Floors sells a variety of eco-friendly colors and styles for both wall-to-wall and area carpeting. Also, purchase carpets with natural fiber backing that’s attached with less-toxic adhesives.
Apart from several conflicting and confusing statements, (just what exactly is an eco-friendly color?), the biggest problem with the article is the author’s use of the f word – f as in formaldehyde. If the author had performed a modicum of research on the topic she would have discovered that formaldehyde is not used to manufacture carpet and hasn’t been for 30 years.

CRI has performed comprehensive surveys of carpet mills and determined that formaldehyde is not contained in any of carpet’s raw materials. Still, to demonstrate carpet’s contribution to healthy indoor environments, CRI analyzes finished carpet for formaldehyde as part of CRI’s Green Label (GL) and Green Label Plus (GLP) Indoor Air Quality testing and certification programs. This testing assures consumers that carpet is not a significant source of any Volatile Organic Compound (VOC), including formaldehyde.

In fact, CRI’s Green Label and Green Label Plus testing and certification programs carry tremendous weight in counteracting negative and irresponsible media coverage of carpet and its role in Indoor Air Quality.

The Carpet and Rug Institute began testing carpet for VOC emissions in 1992, when CRI, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, created the Green Label standard to identify low VOC-emitting carpets. In 2006, CRI launched the aggressive Green Label Plus VOC testing program, with stricter criteria and additional testing. Carpets meeting the stringent Green Label Plus emissions testing criteria qualify for inclusion under California’s High-Performance Schools program.

Green Label testing expanded to include carpet cushion and Green Label Plus testing was established for adhesives. Both GL carpet cushion and GLP adhesives have the same low emission requirements. And one more critical point: independent testing shows that all VOC emissions from carpet are virtually undetectable within 48-72 hours after installation. After this brief time VOCs are gone – period!

Green Label Plus carpets and adhesives are recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States’ Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), green building program where they earn project credit. As I mentioned, the State of California accepts GLP-certified carpet for use in their High-Performance Schools, and GLP carpet is also accepted by the American Lung Association’s Health House program. GL cushion is recognized by the EPA, state of California, and many other regulating bodies.

For even more information on carpet and formaldehyde, see this Technical Bulletin from the CRI website. There is so much evidence testifying to carpet’s safety and appropriateness, I have to ask: on the subject of carpet and formaldehyde, to whom should consumers listen? Should we believe experts at the EPA, USGBC, and American Lung Association, or an uninformed writer who wouldn’t know a tufter from a tea cozy?

Like Gil Grissom says on CSI, the (scientific) evidence never lies…


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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kate Chappell, Development Manager, Carpet Recycling UK

Kate Chappell, Carpet Recycling UKI first became aware that there was a carpet recycling movement in the United Kingdom this spring, when I attended the annual meeting of the Carpet America Recovery Effort, or CARE (for more about CARE’s annual meeting, see my earlier blog post). Carpet Recycling UK was represented at the meeting by its development manager, a lovely young Englishwoman named Kate Chappell.

Kate is one of the founders of Carpet Recycling UK, which, according to the group’s website, was established to, “address the barriers to recycling carpets…[to] ensure that carpet recycling services will be offered across the UK as quickly as possible." Like CARE, Carpet Recycling UK aims to expand the collection network for carpet recycling, find new uses for recycled carpet, and stimulate end-markets for products that are made from recycled carpet.

Kate agreed to be interviewed for the CRI blog about how she came to be involved with carpet recycling and also about her impressions of her first-ever trip to the U.S.:

CRI: What is your background and how did you get to Carpet Recycling UK? I remember you said you had run a couple of your own recycling businesses - what were those about?

KC: I came in to carpet recycling straight after completing my undergraduate studies in Economics and then a postgrad in Sustainable Development. (BMR note: Kate does not mention it, but I happen to know she did her undergrad studies at Oxford University and her post-graduate work at Middlesex University in London. I guess she didn’t want to blow her own horn too much – how very British of her.)

As part of the postgrad course, I visited a carpet tile reuse charity which was providing supported employment for people with learning difficulties. I was inspired by the great work at this project, and keen to replicate the model and adapt it away from grant-reliance to a more sustainable commercial footing.

When I graduated, I fundraised to set up a company called Spruce Carpets which refurbished residential carpet and provided employment and training opportunities for ex-offenders and homeless.

I took Spruce through the start-up phase and grew it until it had 8 employees. Although I found it challenging to work in an environment where most of your staff wouldn’t be in the normal labour market, it was definitely worth it – Spruce Carpets captured people’s imaginations.

I then set up Greenback Recycling which was a much bigger recycling operation which collected and sorted local authority carpet waste, and sold this to an existing recycling business.

Developing better end markets for carpet recyclates by setting up an industry-wide body seemed like the next logical step…

(BMR note: something else Kate is too modest to say is that she was recently recognized as one of the UK’s ‘Future 100 Young Entrepreneurs’ as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2008. Her business, Spruce Carpets was also recently voted ‘Social Enterprise of the Year’ by Scottish Business in the Community.)

CRI: How do the UK and U.S. markets differ? What challenges do you face in the U.K. we don't have over here?

KC: The carpet markets in the UK and US differ mainly in the fibre-types used. In the US, nylon 6 and 6,6 predominate, but in the UK we have many fibre blends and a higher proportion of wool-rich carpet.

As a result, there is little value to the UK-based carpet mills in reclaiming the material and recovering the fibre at end-of-life.

We also have a unique challenge in the contract market, where the majority of carpet tile is bitumen-backed and therefore very difficult to size-reduce.

On the plus side though, we have strong environmental legislation in the form of a landfill tax of £48/tonne ($78/ metric tonne) which drives demand from mills, retailers and local authorities for recycling options.

CRI: What do you see happening at CARE you would like to make happen in the U.K.?

KC: I came back from the CARE Conference with a head full of ideas about what could be transferred from the U.S. to the UK.

At CARE itself, there were a number of simple services we could replicate to bring greater value to our members; one example is monthly conference calls between our collectors.

On a more strategic level, I took home a clear message about the importance of reaching out to the polymer industry, and the need for ‘pull-through’ of products containing post-consumer carpet content.

I was privileged to sit in on a Board meeting at CARE, and found it particularly helpful in informing how Carpet Recycling UK changes it governance structure.

Lastly, it was clear that CARE had done a great job at building a community of interest and expertise around carpet recycling – this is certainly something we would like to make happen in the UK.

CRI: Tell me about England’s use of recycled carpet in equestrian rings and racetracks. Could we do the same thing over here?

KC: Synthetic post-consumer carpets are shredded and dust extracted to produce a fibre additive for all-weather surfaces. The base surface is sand, into which carpet and other fibres like lycra are blended to produce the desired performance characteristics, and then the surface is coated in wax. The fibres in the sand act like roots to reduce kick-back and slippage – making the ride safer.

I understand that the US racing industry has been moving towards all-weather surfaces for some time, so it may be worth exploring as a recycling route for difficult fibre types.

CRI: What did you see on your tour of the DC/Virginia area, and what did you think about what you saw?

KC: My husband and I took the opportunity after the CARE Conference to take a week’s holiday. We loved seeing the Star Spangled Banner in the museum of American History in DC, and also took a tour of the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond along with a class of local schoolchildren who taught us more about the Founding Fathers. Then we headed to Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway which was breath-taking.

CRI: Was this your first long-term exposure to Americans? How'd we do?

KC: I didn’t want to go home!

Everyone I met was so welcoming, knowledgeable and kind. At first I assumed that carpet recycling must just attract particularly great people, but from my short tour after the conference I realized that everyone I’d met had been equally warm and hospitable.

CRI: What's in the immediate future for carpet recycling in Great Britain?

KC: Our main focus right now is the first Carpet Recycling UK conference on 23rd June (BMR note: for more on this meeting see CRI’s blogpost from Wednesday, August 5). It will be the first time that so many people with an interest in carpet recycling have come together in the UK – and is shaping up to be a full and fascinating day. We are honoured to have Frank Hurd from CRI speaking on the experience of carpet recycling in the U.S., as well as presentations from Frank Levy at PCC and Ron Simonetti at Modular Carpet Recycling.

I loved meeting Kate, and I am so glad she enjoyed her time in the United States. With this kind of young talent involved, I feel very hopeful about the future of carpet recycling, don’t you?

Thanks, Kate, and come back soon!

~ Bethany

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Friday, August 7, 2009

CRI Blog Inspires Floor Covering News Editorial

FCN: Truth or ConsequencesMultiplying the Message
Blog Inspires Floor Covering News Editorial

The July 27 issue of Floor Covering News features an editorial from publisher Al Wahnon titled, Truth or consequences, where he reacts to a CRI blog post about an article that appeared in Health magazine. The CRI blog post talked about the frustrations that come with working with the media – how some writers will say negative things about carpet no matter what, even in the face of facts supporting it as a safe and healthy floor covering. Case in point: although the writer for Health magazine approached CRI saying she wanted to write an article on “keeping carpets healthy”, the final article appeared under the headline, “Can Your Rug Make You Sick?”

Evidently, FCN Publisher Al Wahnon felt CRI’s pain. His editorial begins:

I find it interesting that there are people who hold positions they know are untenable, illogical and downright stupid. They refuse to recognize facts, resist intelligence and ignore truth. These people are not easy to deal with and more difficult to understand.

The editorial continues, telling how CRI President Werner Braun gave a 20-minute interview to the writer, and how CRI’s responses to the magazine’s “fact-checker” were ignored.

It was gratifying to have an industry veteran like Al Wahnon pick up the CRI gauntlet on this issue in such a public show of support. Equally meaningful were the comments the blog received from individuals who empathized with the struggle many of us face as we try to communicate the good news about carpet in the face of so many misperceptions.

One of the most powerful things a blog can do is to get people talking about the issues, even when they disagree. Blogs are two-way conversations, and if anyone – individual or media representative – wants to ask tough questions about carpet, Werner Braun and the Carpet and Rug Institute are available and eager to provide credible answers based on scientific research. (Blogs also provide organizations like CRI with a powerful voice to comment on unfair treatment in the media in a way that packs a lot more punch than a letter to the magazine’s editor.)

Thanks to Al Wahnon and Floor Covering News for the excellent editorial. Keep reading, Al!


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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

CRI’s Frank Hurd Carries Carpet Recycling Message to Great Britain

Colonel Frank Hurd and Prince CharlesThe Colonel and the Prince - Here at the Carpet and Rug Institute, we call Vice-President Frank Hurd “the Colonel” because he is a real-life retired U.S. Army Colonel who, during his 27-year career in service, commanded a battalion of tanks and served as the U.S. Army liaison to the U.S. Senate. At CRI, Frank shows the same kind of multi-talented leadership in his roles as Chief Operating Officer and Director of Government Affairs, and also as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Carpet America Recovery Effort, otherwise known as CARE. CARE is a joint industry-government effort that focuses on increasing the amount of recycling and reuse of post-consumer carpet and reducing the amount of waste carpet going to landfills.

Frank’s role as CARE Board Chairman recently took him to England for the first annual meeting of Carpet Recycling UK, the British version of CARE. While he was there, Frank also attended a meeting of The Prince of Wales’s Business & The Environment Programme, which is part of the University of Cambridge’s Programme for Sustainability Leadership. At the first meeting, Frank was the featured speaker, and at the second, he rubbed elbows with The Man Who Would Be (Will Be?) King.

For an organization that is only about two years old, Frank said he was impressed with the standing-room-only crowds at the first-ever annual meeting of Carpet Recycling UK, which was held June 23,2009 at Leicester, England. “It was exciting to see their enthusiasm – they were really engaged in solving their problems,” Frank said.

Frank made a presentation (see below) about CARE’s success at creating value from recovered post-consumer carpet, and on how the organization accomplished the major milestone of recovering more than 1 billion pounds of carpet in the last five years. He also stressed the importance of developing market outlets for new products made with recycled materials. (For some examples of U.S. products headed to market, see my blogpost about the CARE annual conference.)

(NOTE: the presentation file is large and takes a while to load and transition through.)

Carpet recycling in the U.K. faces many of the same issues confronting the U.S., Frank says, such as a difficult path to economic viability and the logistics of setting up collection networks, but it also has some additional problems all its own. For example, many English carpets are made with a difficult-to-recycle wool/nylon blend; carpets tend to be lower pile in the U.K., making fiber recovery harder and more expensive. Finally, the bitumen-based backings often used on modular carpet tiles in England are difficult for recyclers to work with, Frank says.

Frank Hurd and fellow CARE Board member Sean Ragiel
share their carpet recycling expertise with members of Carpet Recycling UK
Frank Hurd and Sean Ragiel
I am not surprised at the packed house and high-energy participation for Carpet Recycling UK’s first big meeting, because I’ve met the group’s executive director, a young woman named Kate Chappell, whom you will hear more about later on the CRI blog.

After the Carpet Recycling UK meeting, Frank traveled to London to be part of an international meeting on climate change. Organized by Cambridge University, the meeting was attended by Prince Charles, as part of his widespread environmental interests. Frank first participated in one of the Prince of Wales’s Business & Environment meetings in 2003, when the group met in the United States. Frank decided to attend again this year because, “This issue will have a tremendous effect on our industry and understanding as many different perspectives as we can is always beneficial.”

Frank had the opportunity to speak to Prince Charles for a few minutes about the work being done in carpet recycling. He said the Prince was, “Very gracious and engaging, with a good sense of humor and a firm handshake.” He said it is obvious the Prince is genuinely interested in sustainability.

Frank is back home, organizing CRI and looking after carpet industry issues on this side of the Atlantic. Luckily for us, he’s still “the Colonel”, cocktails with royalty notwithstanding.

Added 8/9/09: Meeting Prince Charles a 'pretty heady experience' by Jamie Jones, Dalton Daily Citizen, published 8/8/09.

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