Covestro, REnato, Circular Economy. Design Guidebook

Covestro and REnato lab launch Circular Design Guidebook for EEA industry

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Covestro and REnato lab launch Circular Design Guidebook for EEA industry

To help these customers find more sustainable solutions, materials manufacturer Covestro has teamed up with REnato lab, a Circular Economy consultancy focused on resource efficiency, to publish the "Circular Design Guidebook" – a guide to help designers and developers make their next-generation products more circular.

"The key to solving the problem of material waste is to consider the end of product life in the initial design phase to facilitate recycling," said Lily Wang, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Electronics, Electrical and Appliances in Covestro's Polycarbonates segment. "This guide helps incorporate circular thinking at the early stages for designers, developers and those in the value chain, who can use it as a material selection method that is the first of its kind in the EEA industry."

Measures for a circular approach

To achieve their sustainability goals, OEMs are looking to increase the use of recycled materials, improve resource use efficiency, extend product life and ensure better recyclability of their products – among other measures as part of a circular approach. Covestro itself has already supplied major EEA brands with polycarbonate grades containing post-consumer recyclate.

The book uses case studies and processes to explain material selection so that products meet sustainability and recyclability requirements. It also describes the resource constraints facing the industry, supply chain-oriented thinking, relevant business models, and a basic introduction to the Circular Economy. The book can also be used for discussions with customers as well as for presentations and workshops.

Focus on resource efficiency

"Material selection, in particular, is the foundation for circular design to optimize resource efficiency," says Jackie Wang, founder and CEO of REnato lab. "Researching resource efficiency solutions is the core mission of REnato lab. Through the partnership with Covestro, we have completed the first design guide on material selection for the EEA industry. The book is intended to provide examples and help for the industry and serve as an easy-to-read guide for the general public."

The guidebook consists of three chapters – "From Linear to Circular", "Circular Design" and "Material Selection from a Sustainable Perspective" – and is available in English, German and Chinese. With this guidebook, Covestro aims to drive the development of the Circular Economy in the EEA industry and expand it to other sectors in the future.

  • Production waste is a valuable raw material
  • Reprocessing on an industrial scale possible
  • Contribution to more sustainability and resource conservation

The Maezio® brand of continuous fiber-reinforced polycarbonate composites (CFRTPs) developed by Covestro are characterized by their extremely light weight, very high strength and exceptional flexibility of design. This means that waste generated during the production of composites also becomes a valuable raw material. However, because they consist of different materials that cannot be easily separated from one another, the recycling of composites is a challenge. Covestro is cooperating with recycling specialist carboNXT® on this. It has developed a process that allows the waste to be processed on an industrial scale.

"We are very excited about this joint solution, as we cannot process the materials ourselves for technical reasons," explains Lisa Ketelsen, Head of Thermoplastic Composites at Covestro. "By recycling according to type at our partner's plant, the raw materials can be converted back into valuable products with similarly good properties as those characteristic of virgin materials. The recycling of materials makes it possible to use them again in other products. In this way, we save raw material resources and contribute to the focus on the circular economy."

"Our company has many years of experience in recycling carbon fiber-reinforced thermoplastics and has the necessary plant technologies to process such waste. We were therefore the partner of choice for this task," says Tim Rademacker, general manager at Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials and responsible for the carbon fiber recycling business. "From the processed waste, we produce high-quality new compounds of carbon fiber-reinforced polycarbonate for Covestro at CarboNXT®."

Demand for such recycled products is high because they are valuable raw materials, but also because more and more industrial customers and consumers are looking for more sustainable products. The project will now be further developed to market maturity by Covestro, Mitsubishi Chemical Advanced Materials and possibly other partners. It is part of a global strategic program with which Covestro is focusing all its energy on the circular economy.

About Covestro:

With 2020 sales of EUR 10.7 billion, Covestro is among the world’s leading polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative, sustainable solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. In doing so, Covestro is fully committed to the circular economy. The main industries served are the automotive and transportation industries, construction, furniture and wood processing, as well as electrical, electronics, and household appliances industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics, health and the chemical industry itself. At the end of 2020, Covestro has 33 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,500 people (calculated as full-time equivalents).

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