California was the first state to establish an industry-designed and managed statewide carpet stewardship program. This program follows producer responsibility principles to ensure that discarded carpets become a resource for new products in a manner that is sustainably funded, adheres to the waste management hierarchy, and provides jobs for Californians. This page provides information on the carpet stewardship law and regulations.
Introduction to California’s Carpet Stewardship Law
Discarded carpet is bulky and difficult to manage at end-of-life. Most carpet is made from nylon, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and other polymers derived from virgin oil. Fortunately, numerous products can be manufactured from recycled carpets, including carpet backing and backing components, carpet fiber, carpet underlayment, and plastics and engineered materials. Several carpet recycling facilities currently operate in California, offering jobs, and producing products and feedstock for products made from recycled carpet.
Key Elements of the Law
Below are basic descriptions of legislation relevant to the California Carpet Stewardship Program:
- AB 2398 (Pérez, Chapter 681, Statutes of 2010) set forth the requirements of the California carpet stewardship program.
- AB 1158 (Chu, Chapter 794, Statutes of 2017), effective January 1, 2018, amended the carpet stewardship law to include the establishment of a recycling rate goal of 24-percent by January 1, 2020; the authority for CalRecycle to establish additional recycling rate goals after January 1, 2020 and receive necessary information in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Program; the establishment of an advisory committee appointed by the Director of CalRecycle to provide comments and recommendations to a carpet stewardship organization or a manufacturer on carpet stewardship plans, plan amendments, and annual reports; the requirement that postconsumer carpet removed from state buildings be managed in a manner consistent with the law; revisions to state procurement manuals to require postconsumer content for carpet purchases; and a clause that prohibits a stewardship organization from using assessment funds for penalties, litigation against the state, and specific types of disposal methods.
- AB 729 (Chu, Chapter 680, Statutes of 2019), effective January 1, 2020, requires carpet stewardship plans to include a contingency plan should the plan terminate or be revoked by CalRecycle and instructs the department to carry out the previously approved plan through an escrow or trust company until a new plan is approved. AB 729 also requires plans to establish a system of differential assessments, increases the civil penalty amount that CalRecycle can assess from $1,000 per day to $5,000 per day, and eliminates the five percent reimbursement cap on the costs that CalRecycle incurs to administer and enforce the carpet stewardship law.
The carpet stewardship program is intended to increase the amount of postconsumer carpet that is diverted from landfills and recycled or otherwise managed in a manner consistent with the state’s waste management hierarchy.
- “Carpet” means a manufactured article that is used in commercial or residential buildings affixed or placed on the floor or building walking surface as a decorative or functional building interior feature and that is primarily constructed of a top visible surface of synthetic face fibers or yarns or tufts attached to a backing system derived from synthetic or natural materials. It includes residential and commercial broadloom carpet and carpet tiles, but does not include a rug, pad, cushion, or underlayment.
- “Department” means the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).
- “CARE” means Carpet America Recovery Effort, a third-party nonprofit carpet stewardship organization.
See the law, regulations, and the currently approved carpet stewardship plan for more definitions.
Manufacturers (either individually or through a stewardship organization) design their own stewardship program: they prepare and implement a plan to reach certain goals, and report on their progress. CalRecycle approves plans, monitors progress, and provides oversight and enforcement to ensure a level playing field among carpet manufacturers and retailers. Other service providers participate in the management system as negotiated.
A stewardship plan defines how a manufacturer or stewardship organization intends to fulfill its responsibilities under the law and communicates a course of action to stakeholders and the public. Plans submitted to CalRecycle will be posted to the carpet stewardship plans webpage.
The carpet stewardship organization is required to determine a funding mechanism that is sufficient to carry out the cost of the stewardship plan, including the administrative, operational, and capital costs of the stewardship plan, incentive payments, and grants. Pursuant to Public Resources Code section 42972(c)(1), the funding mechanism must be composed of a system of differential assessments that takes into account the financial burden that a particular carpet material has on the stewardship program, and the amount of postconsumer recycled content contained in a particular carpet.
Enforcement and Compliance
Maintaining a level playing field among manufacturers and retailers is addressed through a combination of civil penalties for noncompliance and transparency that allows all stakeholders and the public to evaluate progress. For manufacturers to be in compliance, they must have an approved plan and demonstrate achievement of specified recycling rates and other goals. Retailers may only sell carpet from manufacturers that are covered under an approved stewardship plan, must add the assessment to the purchase price of all carpet sold in the state, include the assessment as a visible line item on invoices, and maintain records.
Annual reports will be posted on CalRecycle’s website. These reports shall include information on amounts of carpet sold, postconsumer carpet recycled, ultimate disposition of collected carpets, program costs, an evaluation of performance and how to improve it, and examples of educational materials.
CalRecycle added clarity to certain provisions of the carpet stewardship law via the rulemaking process. The Office of Administrative Law approved the Product Stewardship for Carpet Regulations on January 26, 2012, which became effective immediately.
Subscribe to the CalRecycle Carpet Stewardship Listserv to receive periodic email updates specific to carpet stewardship implementation activities. You can review previous messages and dialogues by visiting the Carpet Stewardship Listserv Archive.