The carpet industry must develop a policy on a possible ban on sending carpets to landfill.
'The government has said that it wants to consult on banning carpet to landfill during the course of this parliament - and we are already two years in,' says Simon Macaulay, the new Flooring Sustainability Partnership chairman. 'The impression I am getting is that government would rather the industry came up with a voluntary producer responsibility position, taking responsibility for end of life disposal. I don't think they want legislation, as occurred with packaging, but rather something more like the "end of life vehicle directive" as happened in the automotive industry. There, sensible timescales were built in to allow manufacturers to adapt and change and invest in the processes and systems required.'
The FSP was set up in 2009 by the Construction Products Association (CPA) at the behest of government who wanted an umbrella organisation for the flooring industry to talk to on the important environmental issues facing policy makers.
'The flooring industry has much to gain with consumers if we are seen to be taking the right steps to reduce waste going to landfill. There is much work still to do as post- consumer carpet is expensive and bulky to move around the country and the infrastructure and markets for disposal and recycling is still developing. For example, in Europe there is an energy recovery infrastructure but in the UK, this is still in its infancy.
'But I think we need to be on the front foot with government: generally key players in the industry are saying to me that we should be working towards a timescale to a ban, but giving us time to ensure it is practically achievable. After all, we still have 80% of the waste to deal with. We do not want to get into the situation found by the plastics industry of setting up a timescale that it cannot then achieve.'