Dow Polyurethanes and Orrion Chemicals Orgaform, together with Eco-mobilier, H&S Anlagentechnik and The Vita Group, have inaugurated a pioneering mattress recycling plant as part of the RENUVA circular economy programme.

Old mattresses made of polyurethane (PU) foam will now be recovered, dismantled and chemically recycled to create a new polyol, a key starting material to produce PU. This RENUVA polyol is designed for various applications including mattresses.

Dow states that this is a major step forward for the recovery and recycling of PU foam, and a significant advance for closing the loop for end-of-life mattresses. At full capacity, the plant will process up to 200,000 mattresses per year, helping to tackle the growing mattress waste problem.

“We are immensely proud to have unveiled this plant," commented Marie Buy, sustainability leader EMEAI, Dow Polyurethanes. "By doing so we are answering the question of what can be done with recycled polyurethane foam. It is part of Dow’s strong commitment to delivering solutions that help close the loop and protect our environment.

"As RENUVA now shifts focus to the production phase and the first foam made with the new polyol, our Dow Polyurethane sustainability journey continues. We are actively exploring future possibilities for recycled material and potential applications. It is really a new beginning.”

The RENUVA mattress recycling plant is the result of collaboration between Dow and key players from across the mattress lifecycle," says Christian Siest, president, Orrion Chemicals Orgaform. “This really is a first for our company and for France. We have a longstanding commitment to creating more sustainable solutions, and have long recognised the need for industry to part of the solution. Our plant uses a chemical recycling process in which the PU foam is decomposed and converted into a novel single product. The great thing about this is versatility – we can process foam from any mattress, and the RENUVA polyol recipe itself can be tailored for different applications.”

Dominique Mignon, president of Eco-Mobilier, adds: “Our ambition is to ensure the quality of the materials collected and delivery to RENUVA so that we keep to the promise of a closed loop.”

As previously announced, flexible PU foam solutions provider The Vita Group will use the RENUVA polyol to create its award-winning Orbis flexible foam, providing a more sustainable offering to the bedding market.

“Consumer attitudes have changed significantly, and people are becoming a lot more focused on making sustainable choices," says Mark Lewis, operations and projects director at The Vita Group. "We have already seen strong interest from customers across Europe for Orbis foam and interest in the RENUVA technology, providing exciting opportunities for our product lines.

"For over 50 years, Vita has recycled or re-bonded pre-consumer foam trim into material suitable for a range of products such as underlays for flooring. Our collaboration with Dow allows us to take our sustainability vision to the next level and we are extremely proud and excited to play our part in driving this ground-breaking innovation forward.”

Dow and its RENUVA partners will host a virtual event, Closing the Loop for Mattresses: A New Beginning with RENUVA, on 29th September – find out more here.