Niaga®: No waste? No problem!

It's time to discard our throwaway culture

Enabling new product design

The next time you notice the carpet getting a little scruffy and start to think about replacing it, consider this fact: if you took the amount of annual carpet that we waste and used it to cover the whole of Central Park…it would be the tallest thing in New York City by 2040.

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The reality is that when carpet reaches the end of its useful life there are two stark choices: Bury it or burn it. Both are catastrophic for our planet due to the greenhouse gases emitted, along with other pollutants. Which is why DSM invented Niaga® Technology - a revolutionary manufacturing method for carpet ensuring that instead of going to the ‘product graveyard’, products like carpet (and mattresses too now) remain alive, indefinitely.

Making the complex simple

Traditionally, the underside of a carpet is formed of a series of layers glued together and usually attached to latex. When carpet is discarded, the time and effort required to separate these layers while ensuring they remain a good enough quality for recycling is simply too great.

Enter Niaga Technology: a way of making products like carpet using just one non-toxic material - which in turn enables a 100% recyclable carpet, produced with up to 90% less energy.

An environmental win-win

At DSM we’ve aligned our strategy specifically with five of the UN Sustainable Development Goals agreed in 2015. In the case of Niaga Technology that means:

Some 4.5 billion square meters of carpet is wasted each year. Not only does this equate to throwing away a valuable resource (up to $6 billion per year in material value alone for the US); it also has an adverse effect on nature by going to landfill sites, for example.

The alternative is to burn it. Most industrial incinerators operate at temperatures of 850° C or higher. Aside from causing huge carbon emissions (which in turn contribute to further global warming), they can release potentially harmful dioxins, and require intensive management. Niaga Technology mitigates both these environmental problems.

Science & Innovation

The glue that holds the whole concept together - quite literally - comes from DSM in the form of a specially engineered and solvent-free adhesive. This reversible adhesive decouples on demand after use of the product to allow for high value recycling of pure materials. Importantly, it doesn’t require latex, which is heavy, takes lots of water and energy to cross-link (join with other materials), and makes the carpet prone to stains and burning.

Although it started out as a novel idea for manufacturing carpet and preventing immense landfill waste, Niaga Technology is evolving fast. Flooring giant Mohawk has adopted it to create a whole new category of flooring already renowned for its fast and efficient installation. Now Auping has become the first non-carpet company to use it - for developing fully recyclable and comfortable mattresses. And the impact goes way beyond reducing waste. Carpets can contain more than 40 toxic chemicals according to NGO research - hugely affecting indoor air quality and potentially contributing to illnesses like ‘sick building syndrome’. Niaga Technology is free of those toxins.

The future

Over many decades our consumer society has developed a bad habit of throwing things away – and it’s one that we need to break. If estimates are correct, our global population will need the resources of four planet earths by 2050. By investing in revolutionary product design rather than economically unviable recycling technologies, Niaga Technology is making its mark.

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