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Solvay on course with Poland textiles recycling venture

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 Gorzów 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.’

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