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Issue 07/2022 Special Edition

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Highlights: Advanced Recycling Carbon Capture & Utilisation

Polyurethanes Mattress

Polyurethanes Mattress recycling now a reality Dow Polyurethanes, a business division of Dow (Midland, Michigan, USA), and Orrion Chemicals Orgaform (Semoy, France) together with Eco-mobilier (Paris, France), H&S Anlagentechnik (Sulingen, Germany), and The Vita Group (Manchester, UK) have inaugurated a pioneering mattress recycling plant as part of the RENUVA program. Old mattresses made of polyurethane foam will now be recovered, dismantled, and chemically recycled to create a new polyol, which is a key starting material to produce polyurethane. This Renuva polyol is designed for various applications including mattresses. The recent unveiling is a major step forward for the recovery and recycling of polyurethane foam and a significant advance for closing the loop for end-of-life mattresses. At full capacity, the plant will process up to 200,000 mattresses per year to tackle the growing mattress waste problem. “We are immensely proud to have unveiled this plant. By doing so we are answering the question of what can be done with recycled polyurethane foam. It is part of Dow’s strong commitment to delivering solutions that help close the loop and protect our environment,” commented Marie Buy, Sustainability Leader EMEAI, Dow Polyurethanes, “As Renuva now shifts focus to the production phase and the first foam made with the new polyol, our Dow Polyurethane sustainability journey continues. We are actively exploring future possibilities for recycled material and potential applications. It is really a new beginning”. The Renuva mattress recycling plant is the result of strong collaboration between Dow and key players from across the mattress lifecycle: chemical innovator Orrion Chemicals Orgaform, expert mattress collector Eco-mobilier, turnkey solutions provider H&S Anlagentechnik, and foam manufacturer The Vita Group. “This really is a first for our company and for France. We have a longstanding commitment to creating more sustainable solutions and have long recognized the need for the industry to be part of the solution,” commented Christian Siest, President, Orrion Chemicals Orgaform, “Our plant uses a chemical recycling process in which the polyurethane foam is decomposed and converted into a novel single product. The great thing about this is versatility; we can process foam from any mattress and the Renuva polyol recipe itself can be tailored for different applications”. “Our ambition is to ensure the quality of the materials collected and delivery to Renuva so that we keep to the promise of a closed loop”, stated Dominique Mignon, President of Eco-mobilier. As previously announced, flexible polyurethane foam solutions provider, The Vita Group will use the Renuva polyol to create its award-winning Orbis flexible foam, providing a more sustainable offering to the bedding market. “Consumer attitudes have changed significantly, and people are becoming a lot more focused on making sustainable choices. We have already seen strong interest from customers across Europe for Orbis foam and interest in the Renuva technology, providing exciting opportunities for our product lines,” commented Mark Lewis, Operations and Projects Director at The Vita Group. Last year in late September, Dow and Renuva partners hosted a special virtual event “Closing the Loop for Mattresses: A New Beginning with Renuva” to reflect on the future of the program and share a closer look at what this plant means for the bedding industry (see video link). Eco-mobilier is also collaborating with materials manufacturer Covestro (Leverkusen, Germany), aspiring to generate enhanced value aiming at mattresses and upholsteries. Both parties want to further develop waste markets for foam used in such applications, to enable its use in chemical recycling processes with high efficiency at an industrial level. Furthermore, the parties underline their commitment through an agreement, which sets out a common understanding of strategic goals, projects, and activities, forming the basis for a long-term cooperation between them. Covestro and Eco-mobilier want to keep mattrasses out of landfill and minimize incineration, thus reducing their environmental impact, and giving the material a new life. For this purpose, they want to combine their expertise and jointly develop a new solution and a business model for the chemical recycling of polyurethane foam from postconsumer mattresses and upholsteries. Eco-mobilier has extensive experience in the collection, logistics and processing of used furniture, such as mattresses and upholsteries. This mainly concerns the dismantling of used furniture and pre-sorting materials in order to obtain pure foam parts as raw materials for recycling. Dismantling of old matresses Chemical recycling step 46 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/22] Vol. 17

A key topic of the collaboration is to further develop the decentralized dismantling process of mattresses to avoid ecologically unfavourable transport of the foam parts to the chemical recycling plant. At a later stage, the partners also plan to evaluate possibilities and develop a corresponding process for recycling upholstered furniture with polyurethane foams. “For ten years, Eco-mobilier has been acting to set up and improve a specific scheme for End-of-Life PU foam collecting and recycling. The partnership between Eco-mobilier and Covestro will allow to increase and to diversify the existing solutions for the chemical recycling of PU foam and to extend the perspectives for a material which had been considered, yet recently, as nonrecyclable. Especially, by experiencing padded furniture recycling with Covestro, Eco-mobilier is delighted to start a new stage of development of its strategy targeting ´zero landfilling´ for furniture,” said Dominique Mignon. As part of its new collaboration with Eco-mobilier, Covestro intends to make use of a novel process compared to other chemical recycling approaches, which it has developed for recycling the foam chemically. The technology has competitive advantages as it allows the recovery of both core raw materials originally used. To this end, the company also operates a pilot plant for flexible foam recycling at its site in Leverkusen, Germany, which is used for test purposes. “We are thrilled to complement Eco-mobilier´s unique expertise in furniture recycling with our chemical recycling technology in this powerful partnership,” says Christine Mendoza-Frohn, Executive Vice President & Head of Sales EMLA for Performance Materials at Covestro. “The strategic intent of our collaboration is to design and validate a joint pilot model to encourage and Info See a video-clip at: mattress-recycling Brand owner Retail Manufacturing SeekTogether End customer Recycling End-of-life products Collection Dismantling Collaborating across the value chain (Source: make real an accelerated adoption of recycling and reusing polyurethane foams from used furniture in Europe and beyond”. Both these collaborations aim at changing part of our linear consumer system towards a more circular one, such undertakings are difficult to implement as Mila Skokova, Sales and Product manager at H&S Anlagentechnik, points out, “Renuva has created an echo system that brings together all the players in mattress recycling, otherwise it would never be possible to implement innovative recycling solutions of this magnitude. There are many hurdles to overcome in building a new industrial echo system – a changed process can only succeed if all players involved pull in the same direction. It requires determination to make the shared vision a reality – every partner must have the unconditional will to take on the role of gamechanger. This way, barriers such as legal frameworks or antiquated ways of thinking can be overcome”. Hopefully, in the future more key players, not just in the fields of mattress recycling and polyurethane, will work together to change the system and as Mila astutely states, “this requires a shared value system of trust, reliability, and fairness”. AT Polyurethanes Production of new matresses (all photos from the video (see link) bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/22] Vol. 17 47

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