Sustainabilty is an increasingly important part of the polyurethane industry. Customers such as IKEA take sustainability very seriously because not only is it environmentally important, but because it helps to give them an edge in the market.
By Simon Robinson, Editor
SusPolyurethane, a two day conference in Amsterdam on 7-8 May, organised by Urethanes Technology International, explored some of the key themes in the area of sustainability.
Sustainablity means different things to different players in the polyurethanes market. Attendees and speakers at the conference, while united on the idea that sustainability is important, helped bring some of these differences into focus.
The main differences are between groups trying chemistry on traditionally intractable raw materials with potentially very large rewards and others looking for a relatively quicker fix around biologically produced near-drop-ins for existing raw materials.
In the intractable camp, we can put people looking at carbon dioxide and lignin as starting materials. These are both essentially free to buy but are very chemically stable and hard to make react. In the quicker camp were a number of presentations that considered using more amenable raw materials. The downside with many of these is that they compete with food uses for the underlying raw materials.
Jeff Rowlands director,…