Giving new life to old mattresses
Ever consider what happens to your mattress once you no longer have use for it? It has been estimated that in Europe, 30 million mattresses are discarded each year, which is equivalent to 678 times the height of Mount Everest. This is because almost 90% of all mattresses produced in the EU contain between 2 and 15 kg of hard-to-recycle polyurethane foam each.
Rather than seeing this societal challenge as a stumbling block, the chemical industry has seized the massive circular economy opportunity presented to them.
Dow Polyurethanes has made significant strides in this direction through its mattress recycling programme, where it has begun collaborating with industry partners to recycle end-of-life mattresses back into raw material (polyol) for producing flexible and rigid foam. In short, it can even be used to create a brand new mattress!
After signing a cooperation agreement with German-based installations provider H&S Anlagentechnik, Dow has recently announced plans to implement an industrial scale plant at the site of Orrion Chemicals Orgaform in Semoy, France to convert end-of-life mattresses back to raw materials. Eco-mobilier, a French mattress and furniture organisation will employ its used mattress collection and dismantling capabilities to supply post-consumer polyurethane foam to Dow’s new site. Rather than using 100% new polyols in conventional flexible foam, it is now possible to replace up to 30% of the virgin polyol with those produced from old mattresses, without the foam losing out on quality.
It is worth noting that both Dow`s mattress recycling project and polyols received Sustainability awards in 2019 from the Business Intelligence Group.
Associated SDG targets
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Chemical Recycling: Making Plastics Circular
Welcome to the industry ‘Virtual Exhibition on Chemical Recycling.
Discover how chemical recycling technologies make plastics circular, explore Cefic’s members’ concrete examples.
The European Green Deal is at the heart of the EU’s ambitions of becoming climate neutral. Europe intends to be a world leader in the circular economy and clean technologies. Chemical recycling of end-of-life plastics can fill a key gap in the recycling loop and change the way we approach plastics recycling. Chemical recycling breaks down the plastic into feedstocks and monomers so new chemicals and plastics can be made that are equivalent to those made from fossil resources.
Circular Economy 2.0
In 2015, the European Commission published its Circular Economy package to promote the transition from a linear economy into a circular economy, where resource efficiency is increased and the value of products and materials is maintained for as long as possible. When a product reaches the end of its life, options such re-use, remanufacturing and recycling can be explored to create additional value. Circular Economy can bring forth economic benefits, by contributing to growth and job creation and stimulating innovation, and in parallel provide environmental benefits.