A new chemical recycling process based on hydrolysis and developed by Evonik that enables flexible PU foams to be converted back to the original polyol raw material is opening the door for a more efficient polyurethane mattress recycling process.
According to the latest report from EUROPUR, the European association of flexible polyurethane foam blocks manufacturers, some 40 million mattresses are discarded each year in Europe alone, with the majority ending up as landfill. The result is the equivalent of 600 kilotons of waste, of which more than 300 kilotons is PU foam.
Evonik’s solution will contribute to the global flexible PU industry’s ambitions to reduce waste and increase the use of renewable raw materials in the production of its products. The process, according to Evonik, offers significantly higher use levels of the recycled polyol compared with existing commercialised technologies.
The company has partnered with The Vita Group, a provider of value-added and differentiated flexible PU foam products, which has trialled the recycled polyols produced through the new hydrolysis process in several of its flexible foam applications. The Vita Group is renowned for its long history of innovation in sustainability and investing in circular economy products, said Ian W. Robb, Group CEO for The Vita Group.“Sustainability and innovation are central principles of every aspect of our business.”
As the next phase of the development, Evonik will scale-up trials of its new process.
“It’s only by recycling products back to their raw materials and reusing them over and over again that we will enable a fully circular economy,” said Ralph Marquardt, Head of Evonik’s polyurethane additives business. “Our new hydrolysis process delivers recyclates of a quality and performance similar to that of virgin raw materials. Thus, innovative foam producers like our partner The Vita Group can meet their own sustainability targets, while continuing to deliver high-quality PU products.”
Evonik will showcase its latest polyurethane solutions, including its new hydrolysis recycling process at stand #E15, during this year’s UTECH Europe in Maastricht, Netherlands from 16-18 November.