(192a) Life Cycle Analysis on the RENUVA™ Mattress Recycling Program in Europe | AIChE

(192a) Life Cycle Analysis on the RENUVA™ Mattress Recycling Program in Europe


Every year, ~30 million mattresses are thrown away in Europe. By using chemical recycling of PU foams from mattresses to generate RENUVATM polyols, we can give a second life to this valuable material without performance tradeoffs. Dow's RENUVATM mattress recycling program is an innovative solution to increase circularity for end-of-life PU products in collaboration with the value chain. As part of this innovation partnership, Eco-mobilier will employ its used mattress collection and dismantling capabilities to supply post-consumer polyurethane foam to Orrion Chemicals Orgaform's (OCO) chemical recycling unit in Semoy, France. As the program is moving towards commercialization, an in-depth Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) analysis was performed to better understand the benefits for society and enable commercial claims following an external review by the sustainability consulting firm Quantis. LCA is a science-based method of choice for examining the total environmental impact of a product or service. The goal of this study was to determine cradle-to-gate environmental burdens of conventional Dow-produced VORANOLâ„¢ 3322 polyols and understand how it compares on a functional unit basis with a new Dow product, namely RENUVATM polyols, that incorporates polyols from recycled polyurethane foam (PU) mattresses. The study considered the potential environmental impact categories included in the EF Method 3.0 (adapted) V1.00, widely accepted in the European Union (EU). The benefits of this chemical recycling process are two-fold, i.e. both creates 2.4 kg of polyols for use in new mattresses' PU foam AND treats 1 kg of end-of-life (EoL) PU foam from old mattresses. It is the combination of these two benefits that defines the functional unit used for this study. The cradle-to-gate LCA results demonstrate that RENUVATM polyols offers the potential for a significant reduction of the environmental footprint associated with polyols. A key observation was the 54% reduction of climate change impact relative to incumbent technology for the given two-part functional unit (4.77 kg CO2 eq for RENUVATM vs. 10.3 kg CO2 eq for incumbent). One trade-off in environmental impact categories was identified relative to ionizing radiation. However, it is of moderate impact once weighted against the main ones affecting the EU region and is specific to the high share of nuclear power in the French electricity grid.