Recticel and Covestro research together to develop polyurethane mattresses entirely reciclable

Recticel and Covestro are working closely together in developing breakthrough solutions to make mattresses more sustainable and ready them for a circular economy. This includes the research of raw material technologies – from mattress production to end-of-life and beyond

“Polyurethane mattresses are widely used for a long time and valued for their comfort,” says Boudewijn Dezutter, Commercial Director at Recticel. “Now it is time to further increase the sustainable value of the material at each stage of the lifecycle.” “The project is part of a long-term program with which Covestro is strongly oriented towards a circular economy,” states Dr. Berit Stange, Circular Economy Manager in the Polyurethanes segment at Covestro. “In particular, we focus on using raw materials from sustainable sources, such as waste, plants and CO2.”

Turn polyurethane into a truly sustainable material

The greatest potential for closing cycles in the plastics industry lies in the recycling of post-consumer waste. This in particular applies to the recycling of thermoset materials like polyurethanes. Mass products such as mattresses are a main focus here. Covestro wants to contribute to this by developing chemical recycling technologies.

The company is part of the Europe-wide research project “PUReSmart”, which comprises nine companies and academic institutions from six countries and is coordinated by Recticel. The goal is to develop a complete circular product life cycle and turn polyurethane foam into a truly sustainable material: recover the used material and turn them into building blocks for existing or new products.

CO2 as building block for flexible foams

Besides the latest project to recycle post-consumer waste, Covestro has been putting emphasis on working with alternative feedstock for many years already. The use of CO2 as building block for chemical synthesis has been the focus – resulting in a breakthrough development: a CO2 polyol. A team of researchers from Covestro and RWTH Aachen University made it to the final round of the prestigious German President´s Award for Innovation in Science and Technology.

Recticel was the first company to support the development of Covestro’s CO2 polyol, cardyon®, and to implement it for the production of its flexible foams. The reuse of carbon dioxide contributes to closing the carbon cycle for mattresses. In January 2018, Recticel introduced the new second generation of its GELTEX® foam based on the CO2 polyol.