News for the plastics and rubber industry. Macplas
Environment Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Polyurethane recycling towards a smart circular economy

The global manufacturer of high performance polyurethane foam products, Recticel will coordinate the PUReSmart project, launched on January 1, 2019 for a duration of four years. It is supported by 6 million euros in funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. The PUReSmart collaborative consortium gathers nine partners from six different countries and seeks ways of transitioning from the current linear lifecycle of polyurethane products to a circular economy model.

Thermoset PU products such as flexible and rigid foams are long-lasting, durable and useful in many different applications. They are among the six most important plastic materials produced worldwide and promote comfort and safety in daily life. Compared with thermoplastic materials, recycling thermoset PU is a much more challenging process. The PUReSmart project will explore new methods, technologies and approaches in order to overcome these challenges and transform PU into a true circular material.

PUReSmart targets the recovery of over 90% of end-of-life PU with the goal of converting it into valuable inputs for new and known products. The project consortium will develop smart sorting technologies to separate a diverse range of PU materials into dedicated feedstocks. These feedstocks will be broken down into their basic components as inputs for existing PU products, and as raw materials for a newly designed polymer that merges the durability of thermosets with the circularity of thermoplastics.

The PUReSmart consortium is an end-to-end collaboration spanning the entire polyurethane reprocessing value chain, and comprises both industrial players and dedicated research partners.