Horgen, Switzerland — Dow Polyurethane and H&S Anlagentechnik are partnering in a project to develop a commercially viable recycling method for polyurethane mattresses.
Dow + H&S in mattress recycling project
The process is likely to involve more partners in the future, said Jon Penrice, commercial director for PU EMEAI at Dow Chemical.
Marcell Moeller, Dow EMEAI marketing director for polyurethanes, said that it was likely that the project would be based around larger European cities where there is a relatively high density of polyurethane mattresses. Cities the size of Frankfurt or Stuttgart, both in Germany, could be candidates.
He continued: ‘We need to have local collection and to process locally. Some countries are advanced, like the Netherlands, and have collection and dismantling.’
Penrice added that they are open for discussion and partnership. ’A collaborative approach is needed for logistics and collection,’ he said.
The work is at an early stage, but Dow would like to see a demonstration plant in place by the end of 2019.
‘We need to make this a proposition for the value chain,’ Penrice said.
Moeller said the goal was to produce polyols which conform to Reach, give consistent properties between batches, process like existing materials, and are available at an attractive commercial price. This is important to entice recyclers to enter the process. Mattress purchase fees, which are charged in some countries, could help to reduce the cost burden.
‘We look forward to developing the market for polyols from recycled polyurethane mattresses for a variety of markets,’ Moeller said.
Penrice added, ‘While we are doing this on our own as part of Dow’s 2025 sustainability goals to advance the circular economy, the whole industry should benefit.’
Moeller added that Dow was working with H&S because that company’s polyurethane-to-polyols technology was well developed.
Ruediger Schaffrath, managing director of H&S, said the project will help deliver EU objectives of reducing landfills and incineration streams. ‘This technology targets enable recovery of valuable raw materials from end-of-life mattresses, which was impossible in the past,’ he said.