Carpet is a significant waste stream, creating around 1,6 million tonnes of waste every year in the European Union. Most carpets are made from finite oil-based plastics. Less than an estimated 3 % of European carpet is currently recycled.

The EU is the second largest market for carpets, after the US. Europe is also one of the largest producers, with an estimated 65% of EU demand for carpets being fulfilled by EU-based companies. Moving to a circular economy has large benefits on mitigating climate change. It has the potential to create even more jobs in this sector and reduce dependency on imported materials.


Wide variety of instruments

Commissioned by the Changing Markets Foundation, the Policy Toolkit for Carpet Circularity in EU Member States aims to ensure that by 2025 all commercial and household carpets, both broadloom and tiles, put on the market pose no health risk, and are separately collected, reusable and fully recyclable.

Aimed at national governments, the toolkit suggests a wide variety of policy instruments with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as a key element. EPR schemes are designed to deliver higher recycling rates in the sector. It makes producers responsible for the costs of dealing with their products at the end of life. The European institutions strongly encourage this instrument as a way to meet national targets on waste reduction and recycling.

“The various life stages of a product have to be taken into account if you want to make a viable circular economy. EPR is in fact an essential enabler for the transition to a circular model. By setting clear requirements, it stimulates the development of circularity in eco-design, business models and recycling efficiency”, explains Siu Lie Tan, Project Coordinator at NGO Recycling Netwerk Benelux.


The carpet industry can be at the forefront of circular economy

“Since Member States have clear ambitions to become circular economies, the time for talking has passed. We need to start creating economic scale now and unlock the economic potential of the circular model in a constructive and effective way”, Tan says.

“The carpet sector has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of circular economy. Several companies have shown that they can produce fully recyclable and toxic-free carpets. Governments must play a key role in this transition by putting in place ambitious policies to ramp up the recycling efforts. This toolkit provides a blueprint for mandatory policies that will drive investments in better design, collection and recycling of carpets,” says Nusa Urbancic, Campaigns Director from The Changing Markets Foundation.

The toolkit suggests criteria for mandatory essential requirements regarding eco-design, including phasing out harmful substances, setting minimum levels for recycled content, recyclability requirements and product passports. Other policy options include a graded ‘Green Carpet Mark’ (similar to the EU energy efficiency label) to help inform consumers about the environmental performance of their carpet, and Green Public Procurement to create demand for better designed and more recyclable products.

“We’re pleased to have brought together our understanding of the issues that currently prevent greater circularity in the sector and our experience in policy design in developing this toolkit. We hope that the toolkit will represent a key step in the move to better environmental performance, from design through to end-of-life management, for all commercial and household carpets,” said Mark Hilton, Head of Sustainable Business at Eunomia.


The full Eunomia Consulting report is available on:

More information about Changing Markets carpet campaign:


Further information

About the Changing Markets Foundation

The Changing Markets Foundation partners with NGOs on market-focused campaigns. Our mission is to expose irresponsible corporate practices and drive change towards a more sustainable economy. / @ChangingMarkets

About Recycling Netwerk Benelux

Recycling Netwerk is an independent environmental organisation active in the Netherlands and Belgium, connecting several environmental organisations on the subject of primary materials and their impact. Our goal is to limit as much as possible the environmental damage caused, from production to waste management. Therefore, our network wants: always more and always better recycling.