- The Column
- 🏭 More mattress recycling
🏭 More mattress recycling
Evonik's agreement with a mattress collector, plus more.
Good morning. If you missed the announcement on Monday, check it out here. And if you’d missed the poll, you can vote here (thanks for all of the feedback so far, good to know that the memes are cherished):
What do you think about the changes?
Evonik is pushing for mattress recycling
German specialty chemical company, Evonik, is partnering with German recycling company, Remondis, to secure a supply of end-of-life mattress foams for its polyurethane (PU) molecular recycling process.
According to this report from EUROPAR, about 40 million mattresses reach the end of their life in Europe alone, which amounts to 250,000 tons of waste PU hitting the dump each year. There are quite a few companies looking into ways to collect, sort, and recycle those mattresses, and chemical companies are not exempt from that list: Covestro, BASF, and Dow Chemical all have their own pilot scale sites (technically Dow’s is full scale).
Okay, so what’s the deal here?
We make PUs by reacting a polyol (usually polyethers) with an isocyanate (such as TDI). Evonik is depolymerizing waste PU with hydrolysis, which converts the PU back into the initial polyol, an amine intermediate (that can be converted back into the isocyanate), and CO2. But Evonik has been developing that process for years now—the partnership with Remondis is all upstream. It’s about ensuring that their feedstock (waste PU from mattresses) is validated and can scale as Evonik scales its process.
One of the primary issues that molecular recycling runs into is more of an infrastructure problem: the purity of your output is only as good as the purity of your input (unless, of course, you want to do a ton of downstream separations, but that’s a capital intensive endeavor). And that might be something that mattresses have going for them; sorting out mattresses from the rest of the landfill waste is probably easier than sorting PET from HDPE. But I’m not clear on mattress composition at large, just that it’s mostly PU. Plus, it’s important to keep scale in mind here—even Dow's full scale site can only process 200,000 mattresses (0.5% of the European total) each year.
What’s going on:
Braskem signed an agreement with Vitol to lock in yet another supply of plastic-waste-based pyrolysis oil. We’re seeing pretty much all of the big petrochemical players work out similar agreements, often by doing partial acquisitions of small pyrolysis players—this agreement is interesting because Vitol is acting as an intermediary, and usually the agreements are made directly with the pyrolyzer.
MOL Chemical Tankers acquired Fairfield Chemical Carriers for $400m. So now, instead of having 85 chemical tankers, MOL has 121.
ChemWeek is reporting that Grupa Azoty had to declare a force majeure at its oxo alcohols plant in Poland. Apparently it was because of an issue at their ammonia unit at the same site.
Orion, with help from Germany and the EU, is investing $15m to develop carbon blacks made from sustainable feedstocks. It’s not clear exactly what feedstocks they’re exploring, but it’s probably not wood, and wood is what Origin Materials’ carbon black traces its roots to. I guess we’ll see how the LCAs stack up someday.
Adnoc and Covestro are in talks—presumable about Adnoc acquiring a meaningful fraction of Covestro. Adnoc made a takeover bid to Braskem earlier this year too. I wonder why they’re so desperate to make an acquisition?