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In the European research project 'PUReSmart', Covestro and Recticel have succeeded in recovering the two main raw materials of flexible polyurethane foam (PU) from mattresses while maintaining quality and purity. The chemically recycled raw materials have now been used to produce a new flexible foam.
Editorial office / Brussels

“For the first time ever, polyurethane really fits into a circular economy,” says Bart Haelterman, R&D director at Recticel. “We have succeeded in developing a technology to recover the two basic raw materials – polyol and toluene diisocyanate (TDI) – via chemical recycling, thus converting polyurethane foam into a high-quality recycled material.”

Recticel coordinated the PUReSmart project launched in 2019 with nine partners from six different countries. Besides chemical company Covestro, the universities of Ghent and Leuven were also involved in the research. The European Union funded the PUReSmart project with six million euros, as part of its Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The process has now been successfully tested in a pilot plant. Covestro intends to build a larger recycling plant to also validate the technology on an industrial scale. “Our goal is to convert waste into valuable raw materials and thus embed the principle of the circular economy in the value chain,” says Covestro’s Christine Mendoza-Frohn.

Image: Covestro