Poland – According to international chemicals group Solvay, construction of its industrial-scale facility for the recycling of technical textile waste from post-industrial sources is right on schedule. The plant at GorzÃ³w in Poland is set to be fully operational in 2016.
The initiative is part of Solvay’s Move4earth project, which is backed by the European Commission’s LIFE+ programme. The venture will focus 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.
Solvay will use proprietary recycling technology for separating the airbag fabrics from the coating, delivering a PA6.6 premium recyclate ‘with no significant loss in material properties’, including stable viscosity and robust mechanical performance. In addition, Solvay will explore applications for the silicone coating by-product separated from the airbag fabrics, which makes up roughly 15% of the material flow.
The project addresses a need for more effective recycling solutions to help minimise large volumes of valuable engineering plastic waste, argues Richard Bourdon, Move4earth project director at Solvay. ‘More than 70% of all automotive airbags in Europe are made of silicone-coated nylon fabrics, mostly based on PA6.6.’
While regulations are setting high targets for end-of-life recycling and reuse of materials in vehicles, there is currently ‘no sustainable solution’ in place for post-consumer airbag waste in Europe, he points out.
‘Our mid-term objective is to establish an efficient and sustainable way of reusing 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.’