Innovative process for recovering both core raw materials

Closing the loop for polyurethane mattresses

COVESTRO has developed an innovative process for the chemical recycling of polyurethane (PU) flexible foam from used mattresses.

On average, mattresses contain 15 to 20kg of foam, which results in a large amount of waste at the end of their useful life. The foam is primarily made of two important raw materials. While other chemical recycling approaches mainly focus on processing one of them, the Covestro process now enables the recovery of both raw materials.

Covestro has also recently started operating a pilot plant for flexible foam recycling at its Leverkusen site to confirm the positive laboratory results achieved to date. The first phase is to focus on recycling one of the raw materials, before the recovery of the second component is also to be piloted from summer this year. Covestro´s goal here is to industrialize chemical recycling processes for used flexible foams and ultimately to remarket both recovered raw materials.

Covestro has also developed an intelligent sorting solution for separating the different PU foams from post-consumer mattresses. The software uses algorithms to correctly identify the different foam types, which facilitates an effective recycling process. This development is another element of Covestro’s digitalization strategy, combined with the new opportunities it entails for the chemicals and plastics industry.