Customers of Shaw Industries, as well as residents of Dalton, Ga., will soon benefit from the nation's first waste carpet-to-energy project.

Shaw and Siemens Building Technologies have developed a process for converting carpet and wood manufacturing waste into steam energy. The process is expected to decrease plant emissions, significantly reduce the amount of post-manufacturing carpet waste in landfills and save Shaw's Dalton plant as much as $2.5 million per year.

Siemens will design, build and service a conversion facility adjacent to Shaw's carpet manufacturing plant in Dalton. The facility, which is scheduled to be fully operable by the end of 2005, will convert byproducts of Shaw's manufacturing process - specifically, carpet selvage, seam waste and wood flour -- into gas that will fuel a boiler to produce more than 50,000 lbs. of steam per hour. Shaw will then use the steam in its Dalton manufacturing operations.

Bill Barron, Shaw vice president of Manufacturing, said the project each year will convert approximately 16,000 tons of post-manufacturing and post-consumer carpet waste, and 6,000 tons of wood flour.

Shaw customers should benefit from the waste-conversion process because the disposal of post-consumer carpet waste also poses a challenge for building owners and operators. More than 25 million tons of post-consumer carpet is deposited in landfills each year, accounting for 2 percent of all landfill waste.

Dalton residents are also expected to benefit, said Barron, because the project will virtually eliminate Shaw's post-manufacturing carpet waste previously destined for the Dalton community landfill. "This initiative will greatly reduce our landfill costs and help Shaw Industries become a sustainable organization," he added.

According to Bob Peoples, executive director of the Carpet and Rug Institute, an estimated five billion pounds of post-consumer and post-manufacturing carpet was deposited in U.S. landfills during 2004. In addition, the conversion of carpet and wood waste into energy will result in significantly cleaner emissions, when compared to consumption of coal and fuel oil which Shaw currently uses to power its manufacturing operations.

Moreover, by replacing the use of coal and fuel oil with carpet and wood waste, Shaw will save millions of dollars per year in steam production costs.