Covestro and Nongfu Spring to cooperate on upcycling of polycarbonate water barrels

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Fostering a circular economy
  • Three-party cooperation also involves Chinese polycarbonate recycling company Ausell
  • Cooperation to improve traceability and recycling quality
  • Aim is to build a polycarbonate recycling value chain that is beneficial to all
Covestro’s high-performance recycled plastics can be used in industries such as electronics, home appliances and automotive, extending the life of polycarbonate

Materials manufacturer Covestro has signed a cooperation agreement with Chinese bottled water and beverage company Nongfu Spring and plastics recycling company Ausell to upcycle and reuse the 19-liter polycarbonate water barrels. Through this cooperation, the companies will further optimize the recycling efficiency of Nongfu Spring’s 19-liter polycarbonate barrels, improve the traceability and quality of recycled materials, and extend the life of barrels that are no longer in use. The signing ceremony was held today at Nongfu Spring’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China.

“As the inventor of polycarbonate, Covestro has been focusing on developing a variety of recycling solutions for post-consumer polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is extremely valuable, so we are committed to working with partners in the value chain to enable upcycling of polycarbonate and thus foster a circular economy,” said Holly Lei, President of Covestro China. “Collaboration within the industry chain to facilitate recycling will improve the traceability and quality of materials, and all parties and society can benefit from it.”

Bayer, of which Covestro arose from, invented polycarbonate in 1953. The engineering plastic is extremely robust and lightweight, has excellent heat resistance and can be easily molded. The transparent plastic is odorless, does not cause harm to the human body and meets the hygiene standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration and European Union health authorities. Polycarbonate is widely used across many industries, including mobility, construction, electrical, electronics and appliances, healthcare and LED lighting.

According to the agreement, Nongfu Spring plans to collect and recycle 1 million 19-liter polycarbonate barrels that are no longer in use every year. These barrels are later chopped, washed and re-pelletized by plastics recycling company Ausell. Covestro will then transform the processed plastic granules into high-performance recycled plastics for use in industries such as electronics, home appliances and automotive.

“This cooperation will allow polycarbonate barrels in the packaged drinking water industry to be recycled, revived and restructured for use in the electronics, home appliances and automotive industries so as to promote the sustainable use of polycarbonate materials,” said Zhou Li, Secretary of the Board of Directors of Nongfu Spring. “Nongfu Spring will continue to work with all partners in the recycling industry chain and we hope to promote the sustainable and healthy applications of plastic materials.”

Covestro, Nongfu Spring and Ausell sign a cooperation agreement to upcycle polycarbonate water barrels. From left: Zhou Li, Secretary of the Board of Directors of Nongfu Spring, Holly Lei, President of Covestro China, and Xia Wenjun, Chairman of Ausell

Zhao Kai, Vice President and Secretary-General of the China Association of Circular Economy, said: “Materials recycling is an important part of the circular economy and it should not be ignored. The cooperation between Nongfu Spring, Covestro and Ausell enables high-end applications of recycled plastics, and it is a good example of the closed-loop recycling system in China.”

As part of its strategy to promote the circular economy, Covestro joined the Alliance to End Plastic Waste as a founding member early last year. The worldwide company network aims to minimize the impact of plastic waste on the natural environment while promoting multiple post-use solutions for plastic. Last year, Covestro also joined the new Circular Plastics Alliance to promote plastic recycling in Europe by working with relevant businesses and organizations.

Covestro is looking to work with as many partners as possible to build a new recycling value chain and find the best solutions for the circular economy. The cooperation with Nongfu Spring and Ausell represents yet another step to forge ahead with the initiative in China.

About Covestro:

With 2018 sales of EUR 14.6 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, and electrical and electronics industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,800 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) as of the end of 2018.

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