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Foam in the News: Recycling


Recycling foam news

At eFoam, we enjoy keeping up to date with the latest innovations taking place within our sector. We're pleased to see that so many of today's developments in the foam industry concern new and sustainable practices, ranging from recycling methods to improving products' efficiency. In the latest instalment of our 'Foam in the News' series, we're pleased to report on a fantastic new development from global energy company Repsol.

In the past, the most common methods for disposing of polyurethane foam were incineration and sending it to landfill. This is not a practice we promote, and we're pleased to see the industry shifting away from this as more of us become environmentally conscious. What is also helping to change attitudes is the enforcement of new environmental regulations for disposing of such products. As a result, the industry is moving to alternative options like physical and chemical recycling.

By the end of 2022, Repsol is developing and building Spain's first specialist plant for the chemical recycling of polyurethane foam. What is significant about this build is that the plant will be capable of processing over 2,000 metric tons of waste per year – a fantastic number that will help to reduce the quantity of Foam that is sadly sent to landfill. To get the plant up and running, Repsol has pledged a €12 million investment.

Recycle foam waste

The chemical recycling to be used by Repsol is based on the principles of the 'circular economy. In other words, the use and re-use of one single material are endless, no matter how many times it is recycled. The company is hoping to recycle polyurethane foam by producing circular polyols from it – the raw materials commonly used in the manufacturing of any polyurethane foam products. By working with the core elements of such Foam, Repsol's new plant will take full advantage of a sustainable recycling 'circle'.

Many companies like Repsol have been turning their attention to the development of sustainable manufacturing and recycling processes. Repsol, in particular, is transforming its industrial processes and is turning its production centres into multi-centre hubs that are hoping to achieve a low, zero, or carbon-negative footprint. Repsol has already announced it is to dedicate €700 million to circular economy projects until 2025.

We're pleased to see such a strong commitment from some of the world's largest companies to develop their sustainable practices – especially when they relate to Foam. However, we are also happy to support the development of products made from off-cuts and other unwanted foam parts. Lots of excess foam is repurposed into crumb foam by compacting various pieces together, and it is commonly found in a range of furniture as standard. Products that use crumb foam include pub seating, public transport seating, gym mats, crash mats and church kneelers. It can also be used for packaging and sound insulation. It is a durable, long-lasting and resilient material that is a brilliant option for companies looking to use recycled foam off-cuts.

For more information on our own sustainable and environmental practices at eFoam, please contact one of our friendly advisers.

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