For many years PET (polyester) tufted carpeting has been considered an alternative to nylon for automotive carpets. However, despite advantages such as improved stain resistance and the possibility of using recycled soda and water bottles as feedstock, PET was not affordable because it meant using higher, more expensive carpet pile weights to meet the automotive demands of wear and resiliency. The industry generally considered this an intrinsic limitation of PET fiber, as attractive as using recycled water and soda bottles would be. Currently, under 25% of the more than 60 billion PET beverage bottles sold are recycled.
Futuris was able to disprove prevailing conventional thinking. They were able to meet automotive carpet specifications at the same carpet face weight as nylon, by developing innovative fiber, tufting, and carpet construction technologies. As a result, Futuris is able to offer PET carpet at lower cost than nylon, but with better appearance and feel, and improved stain resistance. And, unlike current nylon carpets, the PET carpet with an all-polyester carpet construction is 100% recyclable.
Choosing not to rest on this success, Futuris continued development efforts until they were able to meet automotive durability, wear, resiliency, texture, and stain resistance requirements while using up to 80% post-consumer recycled PET in the fiber. Just 20% post-consumer fiber content allows the reclaiming of up to 100 scrap water bottles per vehicle in the carpeting.
Futuris and its fiber supplier have applied for patents covering the fiber, backing, and carpet-construction. The first tufted PET carpet applications were in aftermarket floor mats, while the first fully carpeted car floors began as a running change in the 2009 model year. Initial uptake is in the Pontiac G8 from GM Holden (Australia), with Hyundai Santa Fe and Sonata applications to come.