Using chemical recycling to manage end-of-life mattresses
H&S is building its new reactor plant for the recycling of end-of-life mattresses in cooperation with RetourMatras from the Netherlands
H&S Anlagentechnik GmbH has signed a contract with the Dutch recycling company RetourMatras to build a plant for the chemical recycling of discarded PU mattresses.
As of this year, 1.5 million old mattresses are to be dismantled annually by RetourMatras in the Netherlands and Belgium. A part of these mattresses will be recycled using process technology and know-how provided by H&S, and the Dutch company will supply a fully automated production line for dismantling the old mattresses. The reactor plant is scheduled to be commissioned in the end of 2021.
Chemical recycling can be defined as any process by which a polymer is chemically reduced to its original monomer form so that it can eventually be processed (re-polymerized) and remade into new plastic materials that go on to be used in new plastic products.
"With our chemical process for the generation of high-quality polyols from post-consumer mattresses, we offer a viable business model that will have a major impact on the environment," enthuses Ruediger Schaffrath, founder and Managing Director at H&S.
Contributing to Europe's sustainability goals
In Europe, up to 30 million old mattresses end up in landfills or incinerators every year and are thus removed from the material cycle. If all mattresses were to be laid flat next to each other, that would correspond to the distance from Paris to Toronto. The European Union is countering the amount of waste with an ambitious goal. By 2035, 65 percent of all municipal waste is to be recycled. The new recycling technology of the German plant manufacturer can make an important contribution to achieving this goal.
"With the H&S system, valuable recovered polyols can be generated enabling production of high-quality flexible and other PU foams," emphasizes Chico van Hemert, Operational Manager at RetourMatras, adding, "The H&S process allows us to chemically recycle different foam from various mattress manufacturers." The furniture industry can thus gain valuable secondary raw materials for the production of new PU foam and at the same time contribute to more sustainability.
Ralf Knief, Managing Director Sales at H&S, observes a general rethinking in the industry: "We at H&S are very pleased that more and more companies are attaching importance to reducing landfill and waste incineration costs." To make mattresses recycling more efficient, Ralf Knief would like to see nationwide infrastructures for collecting the discarded mattresses.
Chemical recycling - a new way to recycle mattresses
PU industry focuses on profitable upcycling solutions For H&S, the industrial-scale reactor plant in Flevoland is a new order for the recovery of high-quality recycled polyols. As part of the RENUVA mattress recycling program of Dow, the second largest chemical group in the world, the H&S team supports Orrion Chemicals Orgaform from France with their sustainable system concept.
The H&S plant engineers offer another upcycling solution with recycling plants for production waste, and says one of the biggest Polish PU slabstock foam manufacturers has been using the technology since 2013 and also recovers valuable polyols from production waste.
Mila Skokova, Product & Sales Manager at H&S, believes that the focus on sustainable recycling solutions is paying off: "We are currently receiving a large number of enquiries, especially from flexible foam manufacturers. In times of raw material scarcity, recovered polyols become the perfect solution to reduce production costs and increase competitiveness."
H&S Anlagentechnik GmbH develops plant and process technologies for the efficient, flexible, production-safe and environmentally compatible storage, metering, mixing and formulation of polyurethanes, as well as for the chemical recycling of PU and PET waste.
Traditionally, waste management companies have operated using a simple "management of waste" approach to operating a MRF. Throughput targets and continuous operation (minimal downtime) were the main driving forces. The industry has changed however, and the focus moving forward is now on optimizing system performance and reliability, in conjunction with increasing recycling rates and a drive for a "greener" and more sustainable tomorrow.
When considering the addition of, or upgrade to, an "intelligent" MRF, for municipalities or private operators, the main factors should always be the client's (operator) current requirements, and evolving market needs, which include throughput, reliability, output quality, and adaptability. Equally important is a full understanding of what is really expected from any proposed system. Having an engaged and focused mindset for the project with the client from the beginning, will impact and drive the entire design process. This then impacts the overall project result, through to the productive, efficient, ongoing operation of the facility itself.