COVESTRO
Further development plans for PU foam recycling process / Collaboration with recycling companies
Citing a positive outcome from the PUReSmart research project (www.puresmart.eu), Covestro (Leverkusen, Germany; www.covestro.com) is now working with partners from the waste management industry to further develop flexible foam recycling and close the loop in the polyurethane mattress industry.

Covestro said the project enabled it and partner Belgian foams specialist Recticel (Brussels; www.recticel.com) to successfully develop technology to chemically recycle pre-sorted foam from mattress waste and recover the raw materials.

The chemolysis process, named Evocycle CQ Mattress, takes the waste foam and adds a glycol and an additive to recover polyol and toluene diamine – the precursor to toluene diisocyanate (TDI) – in high purity and yield, enabling them to be reprocessed into new PU flexible foams. “For the first time in history, PU is truly fitting into a circular economy,” said Recticel’s R&D director Bart Haelterman.

Recticel and Covestro are developing technology to chemically recycle pre-sorted foam from mattress waste (Photo: Recticel)


However, Covestro cautioned that there remain several steps to be taken before a closed loop system becomes reality, especially with regard to upscaling the process and securing a cost-efficient supply of used PU foam mattresses.

Related: The Netherlands leads the way in Europe for mattress recycling

To achieve this, the German group said large quantities of waste must be collected, broken down into their individual components, for instance springs, textiles, and foam parts, with the latter pre-sorted according to purity and density. This can only succeed in close cooperation with the recycling industry, Covestro said, adding that it is already cooperating with companies such as Germany’s Interzero (Berlin; www.interzero.de) and French furniture recycler Ecomaison (Paris; www.ecomaison).

If trials continue to be successful, Covestro plans to build a larger recycling plant to validate the technology in an industrial simulation environment. The pilot plant is located in Leverkusen, Germany.

The PUReSmart project was funded under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The EU has provided EUR 6 mn of funding over the project’s four-year term.
04.04.2023 Plasteurope.com [252517-0]
Published on 04.04.2023

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