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16.06.2021

Closed-loop recycling pilot project for single-use facemasks

  • Fraunhofer, SABIC, and Procter & Gamble join forces
  • The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE and its Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT have developed an advanced recycling process for used plastics.
  • The pilot project with SABIC and Procter & Gamble serves to demonstrate the feasibility of closed-loop recycling for single-use facemasks.

Due to COVID-19, use of billions of disposable facemasks is raising environmental concerns especially when they are thoughtlessly discarded in public spaces, including - parks, open-air venues and beaches. Apart from the challenge of dealing with such huge volumes of essential personal healthcare items in a sustainable way, simply throwing the used masks away for disposal on landfill sites or in incineration plants represents a loss of valuable feedstock for new material.

  • Fraunhofer, SABIC, and Procter & Gamble join forces
  • The Fraunhofer Cluster of Excellence Circular Plastics Economy CCPE and its Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT have developed an advanced recycling process for used plastics.
  • The pilot project with SABIC and Procter & Gamble serves to demonstrate the feasibility of closed-loop recycling for single-use facemasks.

Due to COVID-19, use of billions of disposable facemasks is raising environmental concerns especially when they are thoughtlessly discarded in public spaces, including - parks, open-air venues and beaches. Apart from the challenge of dealing with such huge volumes of essential personal healthcare items in a sustainable way, simply throwing the used masks away for disposal on landfill sites or in incineration plants represents a loss of valuable feedstock for new material.

“Recognizing the challenge, we set out to explore how used facemasks could potentially be returned into the value chain of new facemask production”, says Dr. Peter Dziezok, Director R&D Open Innovation at P&G. “But creating a true circular solution from both a sustainable and an economically feasible perspective takes partners. Therefore, we teamed up with Fraunhofer CCPE and Fraunhofer UMSICHT’s expert scientists and SABIC’s Technology & Innovation specialists to investigate potential solutions.”

As part of the pilot, P&G collected used facemasks worn by employees or given to visitors at its manufacturing and research sites in Germany. Although those masks are always disposed of responsibly, there was no ideal route in place to recycle them efficiently. To help demonstrate a potential step change in this scenario, special collection bins were set up, and the collected used masks were sent to Fraunhofer for further processing in a dedicated research pyrolysis plant.

“A single-use medical product such as a face mask has high hygiene requirements, both in terms of disposal and production. Mechanical recycling, would have not done the job”, explains Dr. Alexander Hofmann, Head of Department Recycling Management at Fraunhofer UMSICHT. “In our solution, therefore, the masks were first automatically shredded and then thermochemically converted to pyrolysis oil. Pyrolysis breaks the plastic down into molecular fragments under pressure and heat, which will also destroy any residual pollutants or pathogens, such as the Coronavirus. In this way it is possible to produce feedstock for new plastics in virgin quality that can also meet the requirements for medical products”, adds Hofmann, who is also Head of Research Department “Advanced Recycling” at Fraunhofer CCPE.

The pyrolysis oil was then sent to SABIC to be used as feedstock for the production of new PP resin. The resins were produced using the widely recognized principle of mass balance to combine the alternative feedstock with fossil-based feedstock in the production process. Mass balance is considered a crucial bridge between today’s large scale linear economy and the more sustainable circular economy of the future, which today is operated on a smaller scale but is expected to grow quickly.

“The high-quality circular PP polymer obtained in this pilot clearly demonstrates that closed-loop recycling is achievable through active collaboration of players from across the value chain”, emphasizes Mark Vester, Global Circular Economy Leader at SABIC. “The circular material is part of our TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio, aimed at preventing valuable used plastic from becoming waste and at mitigating the depletion of fossil resources.”

Finally, to close the loop, the PP polymer was supplied to P&G, where it was processed into non-woven fibers material. “This pilot project has helped us to assess if the close loop approach could work for hygienic and medical grade plastics”, says Hansjörg Reick, P&G Senior Director Open Innovation. “Of course, further work is needed but the results so far have been very encouraging.”

The entire closed loop pilot project from facemask collection to production was developed and implemented within seven months. The transferability of advanced recycling to other feedstocks and chemical products is being further researched at Fraunhofer CCPE.

Source:

Fraunhofer

B.I.G. Yarns launches EqoCycle Yarns designed for the carpet industry (c) Beaulieu International Group
08.03.2021

B.I.G. Yarns launches EqoCycle Yarns designed for the carpet industry

  • 75% recycled content yarn with no performance compromise
  • A circular, endlessly recyclable solution for contract, automotive and residential carpets
  • Significant resource efficiency in EqoCycle production compared to virgin-based PA6 yarn: 58% reduction in fossil fuel use; 27% less energy consumption; 37% CO₂ emission reduction

B.I.G. Yarns announces its latest development, EqoCycle, a fully recyclable PA6 yarn with 75% recycled content, offering the same high-quality performance of virgin PA6 yarn. The new recycled yarn mainly based on post-industrial waste supports contract, automotive and residential carpet manufacturers with a drop-in circular solution to reduce the ecological footprint of their end products.

  • 75% recycled content yarn with no performance compromise
  • A circular, endlessly recyclable solution for contract, automotive and residential carpets
  • Significant resource efficiency in EqoCycle production compared to virgin-based PA6 yarn: 58% reduction in fossil fuel use; 27% less energy consumption; 37% CO₂ emission reduction

B.I.G. Yarns announces its latest development, EqoCycle, a fully recyclable PA6 yarn with 75% recycled content, offering the same high-quality performance of virgin PA6 yarn. The new recycled yarn mainly based on post-industrial waste supports contract, automotive and residential carpet manufacturers with a drop-in circular solution to reduce the ecological footprint of their end products.

EqoCycle is made with recycled granulates derived from pre-consumer recycled and regenerated PA6, certified by Control Union for Global Recycled Standard (GRS) Certification. The use of less virgin materials implicates a decrease of fossil fuels by 58% and a 27% decrease in energy consumption. On top, EqoCycle yarns allow a reduction of 37% of CO₂ eq./kg compared to the fossil based yarns. The environmental impacts of EqoCycle with 75% recycled content were calculated through an LCA analysis, verified according to ISO 14025 and EN 15804+A1 and published in an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD registration number S-P-02415).

Customers have the assurance that for every 1.000 tons of EqoCycle yarn, 13,562 barrels of oil are saved and 2.700 tons of CO₂ emission are reduced, compared to PA6 traditionally made from virgin materials.

Emmanuel Colchen, General Manager Yarns Division, comments: “EqoCycle is a perfect example of how higher resource efficiency in our industry can promote greater circularity in our customers’ industries. Minimizing waste, re-using materials, and saving energy and carbon emissions in production, it provides our customers and carpet brands with a new sustainable alternative that won’t compromise their end-product performance but will support their increasing focus on CO₂ reduction and global warming potential. All part of our wider commitment to encourage decoupling from the need for only virgin feedstocks and moving towards a circular economy for yarns and soft flooring industries.”

EqoCycle is the latest circular solution in B.I.G. Yarns’ PA6 portfolio, joining EqoBalance PA6, based on biomass balance renewable resources, which offers up to 75% CO₂ reduction. Both exemplify the company’s on-going investment in developing new products that better serve customers’ needs in a sustainable way. B.I.G. Yarns fully pursues opportunities to support and solve the global environmental challenges through innovation, investment and collaboration, as part of its sincere belief in, and broader commitment to, Social Responsibility.

The innovation of EqoCycle and EqoBalance PA6 aligns with the company’s active integration of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into its business activities, creating value for customers and engaging employees and value chain partners.

New Monfortex line part of a long-term vision for Kettelhack (c) Monforts
The Monfortex sanforizing line with integrated Qualitex 800 control has now been operational at Kettelhack’s plant in Rheine, Westphalia, for a number of months.
24.08.2020

New Monfortex line part of a long-term vision for Kettelhack

  • Kettelhack GmbH – a German leader in the dyeing and finishing of monochrome fabrics for high-quality and durable workwear and bed linen – has this year retired its existing Monforts sanforizing line after 35 years of daily service, replacing it with a new one.

The first line was installed in 1985 during a decisive time for the company.

Taking the helm in the early 1980s, Jan Kettelhack – the current CEO, owner and great grandson of Heinrich Kettelhack who founded the company back in 1874 – made a number of decisions that have secured its success over the following decades.

In 1982 Kettelhack had to vacate its existing plant in the city of Rheine due to urban development restrictions and despite a general sense of crisis in the European textile industry at that time, opted to relocate and build a new highly automated plant that was not reliant on mechanical and personnel-intensive processes. This was aligned with a greater focus on competitive international sales.

  • Kettelhack GmbH – a German leader in the dyeing and finishing of monochrome fabrics for high-quality and durable workwear and bed linen – has this year retired its existing Monforts sanforizing line after 35 years of daily service, replacing it with a new one.

The first line was installed in 1985 during a decisive time for the company.

Taking the helm in the early 1980s, Jan Kettelhack – the current CEO, owner and great grandson of Heinrich Kettelhack who founded the company back in 1874 – made a number of decisions that have secured its success over the following decades.

In 1982 Kettelhack had to vacate its existing plant in the city of Rheine due to urban development restrictions and despite a general sense of crisis in the European textile industry at that time, opted to relocate and build a new highly automated plant that was not reliant on mechanical and personnel-intensive processes. This was aligned with a greater focus on competitive international sales.

From 1986, the company’s proficiency as a specialist in solid-colour textiles led to workwear textiles becoming a bedrock of the business. Continuous investments in machinery and technical equipment have resulted in a fully integrated and rationalised single source site dedicated solely to what the company does best – the expert dyeing and finishing of textiles.

Crucial process steps

These stages in the textile value-added chain, Jan Kettelhack has observed, are crucial to the quality of a final product in workwear – whether it stands the test in everyday use, how comfortable it is, and how many washes it can withstand.

Central to this is the sanforizing process, which pre-shrinks a fabric by compressing it prior to washing. This limits any residual or further shrinkage in a made-up finished garment to less than 1%, to ensure perfect comfort and fit over an extended lifetime.

“We certainly can’t complain about the performance of the old Monfortex sanforizing line which gave us so many uninterrupted years of service, but certain spare parts for it were becoming increasingly hard to source, the control unit was becoming a little unstable and we couldn’t risk potential interruptions to our production schedule,” says Kettelhack plant manager Hendrik Pleimann. “In many ways, the new Monfortex sanforizer is much the same as the old one in terms of its mechanical reliability and robust construction, but of course today’s drives are much more efficient, and when it comes to the automation features and control units – and the data we can generate and analyse for increasing efficiency – that’s a whole new world.”

Qualitex 800

The two-metres-wide Monfortex line benefits from the latest Qualitex 800 control system which allows all parameters to be easily automated via the 24-inch colour touchscreen, including production speed, control of all fabric feed devices, rotation spray or steaming cylinder options, the width of the stretching field and the rubber belt pressure.

The integrated Compactomat system allows a continuous indication and control of the shrinkage values and the temperatures of the shrinking cylinder and felt calender. Up to 10,000 separate process parameter records can be generated and stored by the data manager.

Full line management can be optimised via the batch-specific calculation of all process material consumption and water and electricity use, with any standstill times analysed and immediately corrected for the future.

Any further assistance required is available via Monforts Teleservice, with direct connection to technicians and virtual access to machine analysis.

Professional

Commissioning of the new Monfortex line at Kettelhack commenced in January and it was fully operational in a relatively short time.

“This was a very professional installation provided by the Monforts team with whom we have a very good relationship dating back many years, and everyone knew what was required from both sides,” says Mr Pleimann. “Our operators have found the new line very user friendly and we are very pleased with how everything proceeded so smoothly. An unexpected benefit is that the new line is also a lot quieter, of course, which is something our operatives are appreciating.”

Key features of the Monfortex line are the proven fabric preparation, weft straightening and spreading units, prior to the compressive shrinkage machine with a 750mm shrinking cylinder, and a felt calender equipped with 2,000mm diameter drying cylinder. The line also features an integrated automatic grinding unit.

Customer service

Kettelhack is processing primarily cotton and polyester woven fabrics, with lyocell becoming increasingly popular in workwear for its softness and comfort.

As part of its customer service, the company stocks more than a million metres of grey fabric and at least 1.2 million metres of finished and rolled standard fabric in its warehouse at any one time, with a further 750,000 metres permanently in production.

While a significant cost, this commitment ensures Kettelhack customers can be fully flexible and rely on it as a partner.

“As a family-run company with around a hundred employees, Kettelhack operates very differently to bigger businesses which have to constantly consider their immediate quarterly profits,” Mr Pleimann concludes. “The thinking at Kettelhack is in terms of the next twenty years and ensuring that the business will be just as successful for the next generation as it is today. We also have a very flat organisational structure in which everyone is involved and takes an active part, which makes it a very nice place to work.”

Source:

On behalf of A. Monforts Textilmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG by AWOL Media.