We had a hot water cylinder come in for recycling. It is not something that we have had before but I knew that they have valuable copper as the actual cylinder. It was pulled out of a house because it had a leak in the base. A date written inside the cylinder for an element change said 1986 so it is at least 30 years old.
Before I started pulling it apart I saw some wadding that looked like carpet. Sure enough, when I took the ends off this is what fell out:
You don’t see shredded carpet used in modern hot water cylinders. The newer ones are pumped full of insulating foam from what I gather. Sure, specialist insulating foam is probably better than shredded carpet as an insulator, but it is not a recycled product. And can the foam be recycled at the end of its useful life?
The carpet has been downcycled, which is recycling into something of less use that the original thing. Downcycling is better than not recycling at all but it is not as good as recycling it into something that can go back into what it came from originally (or an equivalent).
I don’t think shredded carpet has any real use so unfortunately we will have to dump it. Damn, it looks like our monthly mass balance will be on the environmental debit side!