Essen, Germany – Evonik is to work with recycling specialist Remondis Group to secure the supply of waste PU foam from end-of-life mattresses. The German chemical company said this will help it develop its chemical recycling process for the foam.
Remondis will sort PU foams from the mattress waste, and supply them to Evonik in constant quality for conversion into chemical recyclates. The collaboration will initially focus on Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, home to the company’s Essen headquarters, but the ultimate aim is to develop a scalable model that can be expanded internationally.
“By working together with Remondis, we can evolve from the current linear value chains to functioning circular loops,” said Patrick Glöckner, who heads up Evonik’s global circular economy programme. “True circularity only works in networks, that’s why we are actively expanding our collaborations.”
The process being developed by Evonik relies on hydrolysis to recover the building blocks from the PU foam. A pilot plant is now in operation in Hanau, just east of Frankfurt, and the company now has plans to scale the process up into a larger demonstration plant.
Evonik has also been collaborating with foam producer Vita Group since 2021. This has already shown the potential of the hydrolysis process to recover high quality raw materials with better usability to previous recycling technologies.
“Circularity in the field of flexible polyurethane foams is very important both for the environment, and for the future viability of our business,” said Thomas Wessel, the Evonik board member responsible for sustainability. “It gives us the opportunity to act in the interests of the environment, the industry, and consumers.”