Researchers Carlos Diaz (left) and Tzanko Tzanov (right), working on the biodegradable carpet (Photo:UPC)
Have you ever wondered what happens to old carpets, after they're thrown away? For the most part, they're incinerated, with only about 20 percent of the material being recycled. Given that over 700 million square meters (837 million square yards) of carpets are produced in Europe every year, with the U.S. reportedly producing ten times that amount, that's a lot of burning floor coverings. Dutch companies Bond Textile Research, Best Wool Carpet, and James wanted to change that, so they commissioned a research team from Spain's Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) and Austria's University of Graz to come up with a solution. The result was a new type of wool carpet that is reportedly cheaper and lighter than traditional products, and that can be completely composted when worn out.