The European polyurethane industry gathered in Amsterdam in October 2016 to find out about the latest trends and developments in polyurethane sustainability. Simon Robinson reports from SusPolyurethane 2016.
In the three years since the previous SusPolyurethane event, the world has moved on. In 2013, the prospect of commercially significant recycling of polyols back into finished flexible polyurethane foam was still remote, but now IKEA specifies a proportion of recycled material in all its flexible mattress foam.
In 2013, there was the real possibility that it would be commercially possible to create polyols from waste carbon dioxide. Both Novomer and Covestro have succeeded in doing just that.
The keynote paper from Richard Northcote, chief sustainability officer of Covestro challenged the audience by asking if we are getting the most out of our resources, or can we improve?
Northcote explained that Covestro and Novomer are both taking a raw material with no or little value, carbon dioxide, and converting it into products with added value, in this case polyols for flexible foam.
“Will we get a premium for our return on investment? Until now, the answer has been no,” Northcote said. “But if you are a furniture company that has said that…