More reuse, less plastic waste
Circular economy driven by innovative recycling
• Covestro develops innovative recycling technologies
• Change plastic waste into valuable resources
Plastics are the materials of our time. They help us overcome global challenges, such as aligning economy and society with climate-neutrality, developing new mobility concepts, or making our cities more livable. However, in order to achieve a truly sustainable future and protect our environment in the long run, our understanding of plastic waste – and waste as a whole – must fundamentally change.
Produce, consume, dispose – it leads into a dead end. Industry must now work to ensure that plastics can be used for as long as possible. That means that at the end of their lives, plastics should not become waste. Instead, plastic should be systematically and effectively reused and recycled. But to do this, disposal systems and recycling technologies throughout the world need to be improved. And in many places, they still need to be set up.
This evolution can only happen if all market players work closely together. And in this scenario, the plastics industry must and will assume a leading role for managing plastic recycling. Covestro wants to be at the forefront of this development.
Covestro promotes recycling
Covestro aims to design plastics and their components from the outset so that they can be recycled as easily as possible. Over the next few years, the company will be conducting extensive research on different recycling technologies, using its experience in chemicals and innovative capabilities. Across more than 20 research and development projects, Covestro will be developing new, efficient technologies and methods to recycle plastic. The approach is broad enough to incorporate the diversity of products and markets. The goal: Providing market-ready solutions as quickly as possible.
Developing these new plastic recycling technologies, Covestro is paying particular attention to energy efficiency. This way, the carbon footprint of the products will be reduced to make business more sustainable.
Comprehensive technological approach
For Covestro, technological diversity is a prerequisite. Broadly speaking, there are two different ways of recycling – mechanical and chemical.
Mechanical recycling meant that waste materials are recycled into "new" secondary raw materials without changing the base structure of the material. For example, after sorting and processing, plastic is crushed into granules. This can be melted down and made into new plastic. One of the ways Covestro uses mechanical recycling is to transform old water bottles into high-grade plastic for electronic components in laptops and printers.
In chemical recycling, plastics are reduced to their original molecular forms so that they can eventually be processed into entirely new materials. There is significant demand for more development in this field – and this is where Covestro can offer up its core chemical expertise. For example, in the European-wide research project PUReSmart, which aims at significantly improving the recycling of polyurethane foam.
One type of chemical recycling is called enzymatic recycling. Here, used products and waste are broken down into their chemical constituents using enzymes, thus producing new recycled raw materials that can be reused.
And finally, in pyrolysis, material is broken down into small molecules using very high temperatures. These molecules are often used again at the beginning of manufacturing processes.
With 2019 sales of EUR 12.4 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 17,200 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) at the end of 2019.
This news release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Covestro AG. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Covestro’s public reports which are available at www.covestro.com. The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.