The history of plastics is an ongoing success story. Daily life is just inconceivable without plastics. Today, globally, around 250 million tons of plastics are processed every year. After the advantages are considered, for instance in the areas of health, energy saving and drinking water supply, there is, of course, the question of sustainable raw material supply and recycling.
In this regard, REHAU has long been pushing ahead with the use of sustainable materials such as natural fibers and biopolymers as well as with recycling options.
Reusing pure form recyclate to produce more of the original article is now normal procedure.Also, REHAU has established products and processes for recycling less pure material and putting it to best possible use. In 2010 alone, more than 29,000 tons of regrind material and bought-in recyclate were used in the construction and industry divisions. This produced around 60,000 tons less CO₂ emissions than thermal recycling entails. These figures were yet again markedly improved upon in 2011.
Recycling: window profiles
Its particular properties make PVC the ideal material from which to make plastic windows. Even at the end of a long life as a window, the PVC is still useful. It flows back into the lifecycle of a new PVC window system for perfect ecological efficiency. For more than 40 years REHAU has been taking back PVC offcuts and shavings from fabricators and window makers and using them to produce new windows. As a member of the Rewindo-Initiative, an association of leading German polymer profile manufacturers, REHAU is actively engaged in recycling spent old PVC profiles.
Recycling: cable ducts
Polypropylene and polyethylene cable ducts are used to protect cables for power, high voltage, control and communication laid below ground. They are also used for classic cable routing and as multiple subducting pipes. Polypropylene and polyethylene are materials with good ecological balance sheets. These ducts are chemically neutral and, after use, are easily and completely recycled into valuable raw materials. REHAU uses its own rests as well as old material from other manufacturers to produce new cable ducts. In 2010 this added up to a good 4,000 tons.
Compulsion to make cost savings plus concurrent scarcity of petrochemical resources is resulting in increased acceptance of recycled material for many automotive applications. Stable quality standards and availability over the entire lifespan of a car model are the essential prerequisites.
REHAU meets these requirements, for instance, by sensibly recycling painted exterior body parts. Bumpers, for example, are separated from their paint content using a special recycling process. Various recycling processes are used to suit the requirement profiles of the future applications concerned.
The aim is to use the material so obtained for other components of the same model so as to ensure availability, long-term.
Dr. Steven Schmidt