Recyclate for new product life
From cable ducts to bumpers
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 forward 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. These figures were yet again markedly improved upon in 2011.
Recycling: window profiles
Its particular properties make PVC the ideal material for vinyl 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 ecological efficiency. For more than 40 years, REHAU has been taking back PVC offcuts and shavings from fabricators and window manufacturers 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 old PVC profiles.
Recycling: cable ducts
Polypropylene and polyethylene cable ducts are used to protect cables used for power, high voltage, control and communication laid below ground. They are also used for classic cable routing and as multiple sub-ducting 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 profile requirements for future applications.
The goal is to use the obtained material for other components of the same model in order to ensure availability in the long-term.
Dr. Steven Schmidt
- Department Head C-R+D Advanced Materials
- Graduate Chemist
- With REHAU since 1993