Optimising materials for their next life

Kunststoff-Recyclate

For all the remarkable benefits that plastics bring to our world in improving health, saving energy, and supporting clean water supplies, there’s one significant downside that REHAU is working hard to address: recycling and the use of sustainable raw materials.

Today, over 300 million tons of plastic are processed around the world every year, half of which is destined for single-use purposes. Yet, without careful handling and recycling, much of this raw material could end up in landfill or other waste sites for hundreds of years to come.

REHAU has long promoted the use of sustainable materials such as natural fibers and biopolymers. The company has adopted an ambitious approach to sustainability that seeks to minimise waste and maximise the chances of products being carefully recycled when they reach end-of-life. As part of our circular economy approach to sustainable business, it’s now company policy to ensure that as many products as possible will be actively recycled when they are no longer needed.

At REHAU we believe that all raw materials used in manufacturing should serve society well for many years and we’ve made an ambitious commitment to recycling. Polymers are simply too precious to be used just once; they need to enjoy a rebirth into new forms and functions.

Thanks to intelligent manufacturing innovations, the re-use of pure-form recyclate to produce more of each original article is now a standard procedure at REHAU. The company even brings in waste materials for other manufacturers to incorporate into some of its products.

With clever thinking like this, it’s hoped that REHAU will soon be able to reduce even further the need for pure raw materials and eliminate excess waste creation during manufacturing. Read on to learn how three core REHAU product lines are benefitting from new advances in manufacturing and recycling efficiency.

Dr. Steven Schmidt

Dr. Steven Schmidt, Department Head C-R+D Advanced Materials


How to recycle the REHAU way

Recycling window profiles

PVC is an ideal material for windows frames; it’s tough, low maintenance, acoustically sound and thermally efficient. And even at the end of a long life as a window, the PVC can often be reused to manufacture something new. For almost 50 years, REHAU has taken back PVC offcuts and shavings from other window manufacturers and fabricators and used these to produce perfect new windows. The company is also a proud member of the Rewindo Initiative, an association of leading German polymer profile manufacturers, where its experts are actively engaged in developing innovative ways to increase the recycling of old PVC profiles.

Recycling cable ducts

Polypropylene and polyethylene ducts provide protection to high voltage, control and communication cables laid below ground. They are also used for classic cable routing and sub-ducting pipes in more complex configurations. Thanks to the REHAU manufacturing process used, these ducts are chemically neutral and, after use, can be fully recycled into valuable raw materials to re-enter the manufacturing and use cycle. Our engineers have perfected processes to use our own and other manufacturers’ old waste materials to produce high quality, shiny new cable ducts.

Recycling vehicle bumpers

The use of recycled materials in automotive components used to be frowned upon. What started as an objection from an aesthetic point of view was compounded by concerns over safety and material longevity. Today though, with stable quality standards, recycled materials are increasingly used to help reduce the carbon footprint and manufactured costs of new vehicles.

Inventors at REHAU have developed innovative techniques to re-use painted exterior body parts by separating the paint content using a special recycling process. The goal is to maximise the use of obtained material within other components of the same vehicle model, thereby helping ensure long-term parts availability and reliable, safe driving for years to come.

Engineering progress

Enhancing lives