PRE-PROPOSAL - INNOVATIVE GRANT 2000-2001
CARPET AUTOSORT CENTER
Project Description: The goal of the proposed Automated Sorting Center in Tampa is to divert and sort nylon 6 carpet
and carpet pad initially and expand to the collection of nylon 66 from the collective waste stream in the Tampa Bay
area and surrounding counties. Hillsborough County will be the lead county for this project and Pinellas County has
stated its willingness to collaborate. Sarasota and Pasco Counties have issued letters indicating their intention to
participate. Evergreen Nylon Recycling (ENR) has committed to accept nylon 6 carpet for recycling at its chemical
plant in Augusta, Georgia, and promising markets and applications for nylon 66 are currently in the research and
(a) Technologies or Processes: This Autosort Center will be the first of its kind in the United States; there is a similar
system currently being piloted by Carpet Recycling Europe (CRE) in Germany. Other carpet collection and sorting
facilities currently doing business in Tampa, South Florida, Orlando, Jacksonville and Tallahassee utilize more costly,
time-consuming and labor-intensive methods which limit their capacity.
The components of the autosort system include a disentangling conveyor belt, a specially designed clamp to hold
carpet, a rail transportation system, a CarRIDTM sorting system (this identifies the face fiber and backing of each piece
of carpet in less than 50 milliseconds) and a component container system. The sorted carpet is subsequently baled
and/or processed, depending on the recycling end-use. This system represents a unique, proprietary process which was
developed by TNO (rail system) and DSM Chemicals, Inc. (CarRIDTM ).
The many automated features of the system translate to a streamlined, state-of the-art process which will accommodate
a higher diversion rate, increased productivity and efficiency over current methods of operation, lower recurrent
operating costs and a higher quality end product. All of these factors should make the Autosort Center profitable
within its first two years of operation even if there is no diversion of nylon 66. If nylon 66 markets come on line as the
Autosort Center becomes operational, it should be profitable within the first year of operation.
The most significant obstacle overcome by the Automated Sorting Center is low carpet diversion rate due to labor-
intensive processes. The aim will be to secure the cooperation of waste haulers operating in the Tampa Bay area, so
that it will be more advantageous for them to deliver the carpet they collect to the Autosort Center instead of to a local
waste disposal facility. The following strategies will be employed to achieve this end: comprehensive promotional and
educational campaigns targeting carpet retailers and waste haulers; lower tipping fees at the Autosort Center; financial
incentives for using the Center; and the identification and tracking of major sources of raw material for the Center. If it
is convenient and financially beneficial for waste haulers and carpet retailers to use the Autosort Center, they are likely
to do so.
(b) Targets: The targeted materials will be nylon 6, carpet pad and later nylon 66 carpet when viable applications are
found for the latter. Carpet waste is currently defined as Municipal Solid Waste and it is estimated that there are 10 -
11 million pounds of nylon 6 and 14 - 15 million pounds of nylon 66 in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk , Manatee
and Sarasota Counties. Most of this material goes to local landfills.
(c) Benefits/Cost-effectiveness: The Autosort Center would contribute to responsible environmental stewardship by
sending the waste nylon 6 carpet to the ENR facility in Georgia where a chemical process converts the carpet waste
into first quality caprolactam, the chemical building block for nylon 6. The reuse of nylon 6 is indefinitely sustainable
because it always can be chemically renewed with no sacrifice in quality. Caprolactam is derived from crude oil in a
traditional chemical facility. The ENR plant's manufacturing of 100 million pounds of nylon 6 annually using 140
million pounds of nylon 6 carpet waste and 60 million pounds of nylon 6 post-industrial waste saves 700,000 barrels
per year of crude oil or 4.4 trillion BTUs of energy, and the VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds), NOX (Nitrogen
Oxide), SO2 (Sulphur Dioxide) and NH3 (Ammonia) in its air emissions are lower by 89%.
The Autosort Center will create seven new jobs for one operating shift, and as the diversion of carpet waste increases,
the need for additional shifts will create more jobs. Trucking, container and waste hauling companies will benefit from
the operation through increased business activity. Carpet retailers will profit from lower disposal costs and rebates on
useable carpet brought in for processing.
The Center's lower tipping fees and the diversion in the early stages of operation of as much as 14 million pounds of
carpet from landfills in Hillsborough and neighboring counties should have an increasingly significant impact on
recycling costs in participating areas. Waste reduction and conservation of existing waste disposal facilities would also
be favorably impacted.
The cost-effectiveness of the system lies in its ability to process high volumes of carpet waste at an efficient rate.
Collection of nylon 6 is conservatively projected to start at 180,000 pounds per month and increase to 495,000 pounds
per month, and 20,000 pounds of pad per month increasing to 40,000 pounds per month.
(d) Transferability: The technology and process used in the Autosort Center lends itself to easy transferability to
other local governments in Florida and throughout the country. High population density areas could be potential sites
for Autosort Centers, and regions with lower population densities could establish strategically placed satellite collection
centers which would supply the Autosort Centers with raw material. The final report for the project will serve as a
business plan for other Autosort Centers in Florida and across the United States. The Autosort Center owner will
mentor other centers in target cities.
Local Support: ENR has committed $585,800 to the project. The Autosort Center owner will be responsible for all
operating costs; up-front capital costs are budgeted at $115,000 and working capital at $75,000. Hillsborough County,
through its Solid Waste Management Department will budget $15,000 towards marketing and promotion and Pinellas
County will budget $39,000 for collection trial expenses associated with bringing carpet waste from stores in Largo, St.
Petersburg and Clearwater to the Autosort Center. Total matching funds from all sources would be $829,800 which is
61.25% of total project costs.
Solid Waste Management Department
PROPOSED BUDGET - CARPET AUTOSORT CENTER
Capital Equipment Estimated Funding Source
- Conveyors $43,000 Innovative Grant Cost Justification: The resource
- Rail System $244,000 Innovative Grant conservation, waste reduction and
- Clamps (50) $80,000 Innovative Grant environmental benefits to be gained
- Baler $82,500 Innovative Grant from the annual diversion of 7,000
- Scale and Tag Printer $8,000 Innovative Grant tons of carpet waste from landfills in
Roll-offs and Compactor $21,000 Innovative Grant the Tampa Bay area constitute a
sound example of integrated solid
Expense waste management. The amount of
Transportation from Pinellas $16,500 Innovative Grant innovative grant being requested is
Project leader from $30,000 Innovative Grant needed to support the private and public
Hillsborough sector involvement and commitment
to the success of this venture, which
Subtotal (Innovative Grant) $525,000 would serve as a prototype for other
CarRID (2) $132,000 Evergreen
Bobcats $60,000 Owner/Operator
Scale $55,000 Owner/Operator
Subtotal (Capital Costs) $725,500
Working Capital $75,000 Owner/Operator
Nylon 66 Development
Research and Development $225,000 Evergreen
2 Man-Years (internal) $228,800 Evergreen
Collection Trial Expense
Marketing $15,000 Hillsborough County
Research/Data Costs $13,000 Pinellas County
Administrative/Staff Costs $26,000 Pinellas County
TOTAL PROJECT COSTS $1,354,800