Chemical company BASF and foam specialist Neveon are working together to establish a closed product loop for mattresses.
Discarded mattresses are typically thermally recycled or sent to landfill. This year, the partners plan a pilot to recover recycled foam from collected mattresses. The next step will be to develop this recycling to a larger scale.
BASF is developing a wet chemical process for used mattresses made from flexible polyurethane and says initial small-scale trials have been very promising. The original polyols can be recovered from the mattress foam and used again to produce high-quality flexible foam blocks.
The quality of these blocks is equivalent to those made using conventional materials from fossil sources. It means new high-quality mattresses can be produced from this alternative polyurethane.
One big step towards a closed cycle, which starts with the eco-design of the mattress product, is the systematic collection and return of old mattresses. To simplify this, Neveon launched ‘Rematress’, a mattress take-back pilot, in Berlin in February. It is to be extended in the coming months to other German states.
‘For the recycling of mattresses, cooperation at all stages along the value chain is crucial,’ explains Sven Crone, responsible for the European business for isocyanates and precursors at BASF. ‘Together with Neveon, we want to build a partner network and close the loop step by step.’
Neveon ceo Oliver Bruns adds: ‘The future bears the name circular economy. As an industry, we need to drive the transformation to a circular system where products at the end of their life cycle are not waste but valuable raw material and feedstock for new products. I am therefore pleased to make an important contribution here together with BASF and other partners.’
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