Frankfurt, Germany -- Sustainability, environmental issues and recycling were the main topics at the meeting of the FSK, the German specialist association for foamed plastics and polyurethanes, at the site of John Deere, an agricultural machinery and vehicle manufacturer, in Mannheim.
Joern Fries, environmental representative at John Deere, showed examples of energy saving and environmental measures in practice at the factory to more than 30 representatives from the foam sector.
As an example, waste water from the in-house enamelling line passes through a plant biotope and undergoes a natural, biological clarifying process so that the cleaned water can then be reused.
During the joint meeting of the FSK's Recycling Workgroup and its Environment/Occupational Safety/REACH Workgroup, essential factors for sustainability in companies and the industry were discussed, using examples from the automotive industry, the building industry and other industrial sectors.
The companies commented on the overwhelming growth of certificates and declarations regarding product sustainability, which they described as assessing aspects that are "hardly measurable and relatively meaningless."
The FSK notes: "The term sustainability is difficult to define nowadays and has become a variable 'vogue' expression, weakening its true meaning."
Rising energy prices and the raw materials situation mean that the main focus within foam companies has shifted strongly in recent years towards energy saving and better use of resources, said the FSK, adding that using management systems has been extremely successful in the three most important areas of sustainability - ecology, work culture and cost cutting.
Participants discussed further energy saving and sustainability activities, which will be recommended to members.
Regarding recycling, the group discussed monitoring of recovery and recycling rates according to the end-of-life vehicle directive as well as the much discussed closed-loop recycling legislation, now in the final phase of implementation, with its impact on production and industrial waste.