World’s leading speciality chemicals major, Evonik Industries, in collaboration with the polyurethane specialist, The Vita Group, has developed a hydrolysis recycling process for the recycling of polyurethane. The process has been designed to convert discarded mattresses back to the polyol raw materials that could be used in many other applications.
As per the statistics generated by The European association of flexible polyurethane foam blocks manufacturers (EUROPUR), Europe entertains 20 million used and leftover mattresses every year which are mostly incinerated into landfills. The developed technique could play a vital role in reducing the number of incinerated mattresses and promote the use of recycled polyurethane in the downstream products.
Polyurethanes are polymeric compounds that are generated from polyols and diisocyanate monomeric units. Furniture and mattresses are the largest end-user industries for polyurethanes followed by the automobile sector where polyurethanes are used in making seats and dashboards. It is also used in the construction sector for making insulations and acoustic absorbers.
As per ChemAnalyst, the development of a polyurethane recycling technique is an important step towards creating circularity in polyurethane production. This project has the potential to reduce environmental pollution and bring Europe to the forefront of sustainability. The production of polyol feeds from the recycled mattresses shall aid in the facile availability of feedstocks to the polyurethane manufacturers, indirectly ensuring improved production and better polyurethane supplies in the end-user industries. Another positive impact could be seen in the polyurethane prices which should stabilize for a long duration once the recycling technology gains commercial viability.