I recently had the opportunity to visit Shaw Industries to see how carpet is manufactured. The facilities I visited are in Cartersville, GA, about 45 miles northwest of Atlanta. This was my first trip to a carpet mill, and I was very excited to attend such an inspiring trip.
Part of what I love about Shaw is their impressive sustainability story. In 1999, Shaw developed a recycled carpet tile backing called EcoWorx. This backing is PVC-free and outperforms the traditional PVC backing. Plus, it’s lighter in weight for ease of shipping and handling. Now, EcoWorx is available for broadloom and performance (moisture protection) broadloom products. All three EcoWorx products qualify for Cradle to Cradle Certification, and they have the ability to be recycled into new carpet backing.
About 80% of Shaw’s products are made with Eco Solution Q nylon. This is Shaw’s branded nylon carpet fibers, and it is also a cradle to cradle product. Because Shaw carpet is constructed of both recyclable fibers and backing, the carpet can be reclaimed and recycled into new carpet again and again, keeping unused carpet out of the landfill forever.
Our carpet mill adventure started with a tour of Plant 94, which houses Shaw’s sampling and custom capabilities, as well as the creative studio where the concepts for the new running line products are developed. We met with Reesie Duncan, their Creative Director. I loved seeing the entire process—from inspiration to product creation.
Of the products Reesie highlighted, my favorite is the 18 x 36 tile collection—it’s totally revolutionary! As the name states, the tiles are 18 x 36 inches, which allows for installation methods typically not seen in carpet tile. The four patterns in the collection have gradient effects which are so subtle and beautiful when installed. This product is perfect for retail projects!
Next, we headed to Plant X which produces the Shaw Contract carpet tile. The facility is huge! We saw how the carpet fibers are threaded into the machine, how the carpet is tufted, applying the EcoWorx backing, and even cutting the carpet into the appropriate size. My head was spinning! During the tour, I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the process is hands on, and how many people are involved to produce the products. Every carpet tile is inspected by a person before it is shipped out to the job site. There is also a person at each tufting machine ensuring quality control, making sure the product looks just like the sample. Since no pictures were allowed in the plant, Shaw Contract kindly sent me a video that summarizes the carpet manufacturing process.
It was such a privilege to be invited on the mill tour. It is so positive to see a large corporation where the employees are passionate and excited to come to work every day. From the local representatives, to the technical staff, to the designers in house, every Shaw employee we met on this trip truly stands behind the Shaw brand and is proud to work for such a wonderful company.
A lot of learning took place on this trip, but we also managed to squeeze in some fun! To our hosts who took such great of care of us—thank you!
One last tip: if you are ever in the area I highly recommend staying at Barnseley Gardens Resort. It was definitely a highlight of our trip!
Featured Image property of Elaine Isabelle