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Move4earth project for the recycling of technical textile waste from post-industrial sources is well on target

Industrial-scale facility to be built at project site in Gorzów, Poland.

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Solvay, a leading international chemical group, has announced that its Move4earth project for the recycling of technical textile waste from post-industrial sources is well on target. Validation of the technology has been completed, and construction is underway for an industrial-scale facility to become operational in 2016 at the project site in Gorzów, Poland.

Move4earth project is one of several Solvay initiatives supported by the European Commission as part of its LIFE+ program and demonstrates the company’s ongoing strong commitment to sustainable development. The project is focused on designing, implementing and validating an innovative recycling process designed to revalue technical textile waste, initially from airbags, into high-quality polyamide 6.6 (PA6.6) grades with reduced environmental impacts to complement Solvay Engineering Plastics’ Technyl Force portfolio of engineering polymers.

“The demand for cost-efficient yet high-performance recycled plastics is growing across all European markets, as processors and OEMs are seeking to reduce their dependency on fossil resources whose prices are rather volatile and constantly rising,” says Peter Browning, Solvay Engineering Plastics General Manager. “In addition, a revision of the waste legislation will be released by the European Commission by the end of 2015. As part of the Circular Economy Communication, new legislative initiatives on eco-design and recycling are anticipated by major customers in all PA6.6 markets. Most of them are already targeting recycle contents in their products over 20 percent by 2020.” Browning emphasized, “Move4earth underscores our efforts aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of our activities and those of our customers, and it confirms our dedicated reliance on European industrial assets.”

The project also addresses a need for more effective recycling solutions to help minimize large volumes of valuable engineering plastic waste. “More than 70 percent of all automotive airbags in Europe are made of silicone-coated nylon fabrics, mostly based on PA 6.6,” explains Richard Bourdon, Move4earth Project Director at Solvay. “While regulations such as directive 2000/53/EC are setting high targets for end-of-life recycling and reuse of materials in vehicles, there is no sustainable solution in place for post-consumer airbag waste in Europe. Our mid-term objective is to establish an efficient and sustainable way of re-using these resources and provide pure high-grade PA6.6 recycle compounds with stable properties near those of virgin Technyl resins for a wide range of eco-designed applications,” Bourdon concluded.

To these ends, Solvay has developed an advanced proprietary recycling technology for separating the airbag fabrics from the coating. The innovative process delivers a PA6.6 premium recycle with no significant loss in material properties, including stable viscosity and robust mechanical performance.

Next steps in Solvay’s Move4earth project are to bring the new facility fully on-stream to ensure a continuous target throughput under stable process conditions, and to validate value-creating options for the silicone coating by-product separated from the airbag fabrics, which can amount to 15 percent of the material flow. “The new recycle grades will be manufactured to the same high standards of quality as all Technyl resins,” adds Peter Browning. “We can guarantee a grade with up to 100 percent recycle matrix and secure supply.”

Project site in Gorzów, Poland. Courtesy Solvay

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