Recycling at REHAU


Plastics in circulation

Recycling plastic products is nothing new for us. We have been promoting qualified recycling concepts for decades – and have made particular strides in the window division in the reporting period. With new facilities and the introduction of an innovative window profile, we aim to further solidify our position in the industry.  

Two branch expansions, one message: for recycled products, we’re the right partner. As the demand for recycled materials continues to rise and this market presents great opportunities for us, we have invested in projects in the UK and Poland, among others. Through the acquisition of the facility in the UK, we are able to separate, shred, clean and recycle old windows by material – and thus produce some 5,000 tonnes of recyclate material annually that we can then integrate back into our production processes. In addition, we have constructed a new facility for recycling technology at our plant in Srem, Poland. Put into operation in June 2015, plans are in place to further expand capacities there. In Srem, we have been working on the sustainable recycling of the plastic waste of our window customers since 2013. Examples like this show how important recycling is for us. With our highly developed recycling concepts, we conserve resources and make ourselves less dependent on volatile raw materials markets.  

The three different ways we use recyclate material: 

  • Closed loop: we use excess material from our own plants
  • Post-industrial recycling material: we use recyclate material from the production processes of other manufacturers that has not been used by end consumers
  • Post-consumer: we recycle materials such as old windows that are replaced in renovations 

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. 

Dr. Steven Schmidt, Head of Advanced Materials

Dr. Steven Schmidt, Head of Advanced Materials

Recycling: bumpers. 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.

Use of recyclates 2014 [tonnes]

Application Area
Pipes, civil engineering 18,800
Window profiles 8,200
Furniture profiles 5,800
Hoses, equipment construction 2,300
Automotive exterior parts 2,500