In the Fall of 2014, ege carpets in Denmark entered into an exciting new circular economy venture. The company that has existed since 1938 – and today is one of Europe’s leading carpet manufactures – has been working with the Cradle to Cradle® design philosophy since 2010. In 2013, ege achieved their first Silver level Cradle to Cradle Certification on the Barcode Ecotrust carpet tile collection. Since then the C2C philosophy has gained ground within the company that has now launched a “Sustainable Carpet Design 2020” business strategy. One of the overall goals for ege is to design a sustainable carpet that is 100% recyclable, in terms of reusing every component of the carpet (when it has served its time) in new carpet products.
To reach the ambitious goal of 100% recyclability, ege worked together with Vugge til Vugge Danmark (Cradle to Cradle Denmark) to prepare for the launch of a new take-back program “Recover by ege”. The program includes a set-up for taking back used carpet tiles from customers, cleaning and sorting the best looking tiles and reselling these as vintage tiles at affordable prices. This does not only keep valuable materials in circulation, but also gives carpet customers the opportunity to buy sustainable products and thereby obtain better environmental profiles.
Only about 30% of used carpet tiles are suitable for reuse, but that’s okay, since direct reuse is only a small part of the business case. The real intention of the Recover by ege program is to get hold of old, used carpet tiles in order to separate the components and recirculate them in the production process.
To date, it is not possible to completely recycle carpet tiles completely within ege’s production process, but in the future, it will be. Ege is cooperating with innovative business partners in order to come up with a solution to overcome the difficulties tied to designing complex carpet products for 100% recirculation within their own production process.
Until the day arrives when ege’s used carpets can be recirculated back into their own production, the company ensures to dispose of the used carpets - that cannot be resold - in the best possible and most environmentally friendly way. In many countries, worn-out carpets are simply buried in landfills. This has not been the case in Denmark for many, many years. Normally, Danish carpets end up being incinerated for energy. ege delivers their used carpets to the cement industry, which uses them as a fuel alternative to fossil fuels.
ege’s innovative approach to rethinking carpet design can be traced back to Mads Eg Damgaard; the founder of ege. He was never afraid to challenge conventions and was uncompromising in his ambitions. This is the key to the company’s success today. They dare set up ambitious, innovative goals – and they are willing to take the long road to get there. Recover by ege is designed to take ege’s products to the next level within the Cradle to Cradle philosophy and circular economy.