Carpet makers and sellers have an additional two years before they have to comply with the state’s new carpet recycling measures.
Legislation signed into law last year requires carpet producers to either individually or collectively submit a plan to the state Department of Environmental Conservation outlining the establishment of a carpet collection program.
A chapter amendment to that bill approved Tuesday in the state Assembly by a 95-48 vote gives producers two more years to create the carpet collection programs, with the new regulation taking effect July 1, 2026. After that date producers and retailers who aren’t part of an approved carpet recycling plan aren’t allowed to sell carpet in New York state. The state will post locations of all carpet collection sites in the state on its website.
Producers who don’t comply can face a $500 civil penalty for each violation and an additional penalty of no more than $500 for each day the violation continues.
“This is an interesting bill because what it does is it says no producer of carpet can sell their carpet in New York State unless they have this recycling plan in place,” said Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, who voted against the bill in the Assembly. “And then it goes even beyond that and says if, by chance, a retailer who may be selling carpets from many producers is selling carpet from a producer who doesn’t have a plan the retailer faces fine of $500 a day. This bill also requires that the producers’ recycling plan be free. And there’s no language in the bill itself that says free for carpet made by that retailer, so if you’re a carpet producer and you want to sell in New York, this law requires you to take carpet from anywhere, even from your competitors who may have sold that carpet years ago and then you, the manufacturer, absorb the entire cost of the recycling. This of course will result in an obvious increase in the cost to consumers and will encourage consumers to the maximum extent they can to save money to buy their carpet of state because this is a scenario this statute sets up.”
The legislation also creates a 13-member Stewardship Advisory Board that includes carpet manufacturers, recyclers and consumer organizations to make recommendations to the state DEC, establishes a recycling rate goal and requires carpet manufacturers to include a label providing a producer name, contact information, material composition and construction information. Carpets would also not be allowed to use PFAS substances.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has previously estimated that every year an estimated five billion tons of carpet waste goes into landfills, an amount equal to roughly 17 pounds per person. Between 94% and 100% of carpet going to landfills is made from plastic. In addition, to requiring the use of petroleum products for production, discarded carpet also takes up a significant amount of landfill space. Brian Kavanaugh, D-New York City, said New York state generates about 515 million pounds of carpet waste annually, less than 1% of which are recycled.
“With this new law, New York takes a very big step forward in our goal of reducing waste and promoting a circular economy,” Kavanagh said. “Every year, hundreds of millions of pounds of carpet and carpeting materials are dumped in landfills and the dangerous PFAS chemicals in these carpets continue to negatively impact our health. This law will lead to a reliable mechanism for consumers to safely and easily recycle their carpet waste and ensure that instead of going into landfill, this material will be recycled into new carpets as well as other products.”
Assemblyman Jonathan Rivera, D-Buffalo, said municipalities spend millions of dollars on landfills, and keeping old carpet out of landfills will help decrease costs to local municipalities because they won’t have to expand landfills as often.
“I’m unaware of any research the industry, out of its benevolence, would look to pursue this on its own, and I think that’s why government sometimes has to make an effort to push an industry toward safer and more long term planning,” Rivera said.
Companion legislation (S.834) was approved Feb. 8 by a 56-6 vote with Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, voting against the amendment.
The new legislation establishes carpet recycling performance goals that the industry is required to achieve over time once the programs are approved. The first goal is for 30 percent of carpet recycling in five years, with at least 10 percent of the recovered materials being used as recycled content for new carpets. The final goal, to be achieved by the 15-year mark, calls for 75% carpet recycling, with at least 40% of recovered materials being used as recycled content for new carpets.
Goodell reiterated concerns he raised last year that the legislation, as written, is an unfair burden on businesses.
“Occasionally, as in every day, the Business Council and others remind us how unfriendly New York state is to companies that want to do business here,” Goodell said. “And they could use this as Exhibit A where you fine retailers $500 a day if someone they don’t have any control over, a producer, doesn’t have a plan approved. And we say to producers you have to recycle every carpet, including your competitors, for free. And we all know that cost will be passed on to the people who can least afford it, the poor suckers in New York state who buy a carpet and pay a premium to have it recycled, quote, for free. This chapter amendment makes the original worse by extending liability to every retailer. For that reason I can’t support it.”
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