Recycling Mystery: Automobile Floor Mats

Recycling your automobile floor mats, made from a recyclable thermoelastic polymer (TPE), is challenging due to the unique recycling requirements for the materials. Use this guide to recycle or repurpose these mats effectively, treating the landfill as your last, least attractive option.

When we checked a set of WeatherTech mats, the most popular after-market maker of mats, we found they are made with #7 plastic. This resin number covers the myriad forms of plastic invented since the introduction of the numbering system, and it is not widely accepted for recycling in the United States. While the numbers are presented in a recycling chasing arrow symbol, this does not mean they can be recycled near you or at all. 

Moreover, the unusual shape and size of floor mats make them very problematic for recycling systems. If your recycler does accept the mats, you may need to cut the material into manageable strips before putting them into the system.

WeatherTech encourages the recycling of their floor mats. The company explains that its mats are made of recyclable materials, and while that may be technically accurate, WeatherTech provides no information about how to recycle its products locally. You should look for the recycling symbol and number on the back of the mat to identify the specific type of plastic, and then search Earth911’s database or call your local auto junkyards to see if they want floor mats​. 

Repurpose or Donate

If your local curbside program and transfer station do not take these mats, it’s worth checking with other nearby facilities. Again, check the Earth911 database using the resin number and “rigid” to find local options. Specialty recycling centers and donation programs that handle automotive parts might be able to take them, as car components like mats and carpets are reusable​.

Reuse and Upcycle

These mats are durable and functional in spaces that see a lot of wear or mess.  If recycling is not an option, consider restoring your mats for continued use or repurposing them in the garage, a workshop, or trunk

For a more creative solution, upcycle your old car mats. You can turn them into useful items such as coasters, doormats, or planter bases that protect your floor from moisture. Reuse not only prevents the mats from ending up in a landfill but also gives them a new life in a new form​.

Other Floor Mats & Take-Back Programs

Suppose your car came with floor mats that combine plastic, rubber, fabric, or natural fiber. In that case, they are not likely recyclable because the materials cannot be easily separated for processing. So, what to do? The most expedient option is selecting mats made by a company that will take them back, but we have yet to find companies that offer these services. Tell your car dealer, WeatherTech, or any company offering automobile floor mats that you want a responsible, circular product and not just materials that will inevitably end up in a landfill.

By recycling, repurposing, or responsibly disposing of floor mats, you contribute to a cleaner environment.

Editor’s Note: Got a question about how to recycle as specific product or type of material? Let us know, and we’ll do the research, sharing the results with the world. You can help support our work, too!



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