Circular Flooring

Environmentally friendly recycling of post-consumer PVC floor coverings

End-of-life flexible PVC floor coverings potentially contain ‘legacy plasticizers’ which may no longer be used today for reasons of consumer protection and which in the meantime have been replaced in the EU by safer alternatives. State-of-the-art recycling of such flooring with recovery of PVC in virgin-like quality therefore requires a technically sophisticated separation of these ‘legacy plasticizers’. The new EU project Circular Flooring will meet this challenge with the innovative plastics recycling process CreaSolv®1, which is patented by the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV.

The  objective  is  to  gently  recycle  end-of-life  PVC  floor coverings by dissolving and removing respective substances in order to achieve a high quality virgin-like PVC material that is processed into granules. These are ready for re-use in new floor covering products, which are compliant with current EU legislation (REACH directive) and meet consumer expectations regarding a circular economy. Circular Flooring aims at introducing the CreaSolv® process for PVC recycling on a technical scale.

Plastics are indispensable materials with many advantages in their application. While 1.5 million tons of plastics were produced in 19502, global production has significantly increased throughout the last decades, reaching 348 million tonnes in 20173. In line with increased production, more plastic waste is occurring which can be a valuable resource in a circular economy. While recycling rates are steadily increasing in  the  EU,  according  to  Eurostat, the  European  Statistical  Office,  only  12%  of  recycled materials  are  redirected  into  the  European  economy  today,  pointing  to  a  vast  potential  for  new sustainable recycling technologies.

Project Overview

Project Aims and Fields of Work

The CreaSolv® technology, developed by Fraunhofer IVV and CreaCycle GmbH, now offers the possibility to separate PVC from undesirable legacy plasticizers and therewith to recycle PVC for future production of floor coverings. The objective is that characteristics of recycled PVC hardly differ from virgin PVC. At the same time, the separated plasticizers will be transformed into uncritical, REACH-compliant plasticizers by chemical catalysation and thus will be prepared as a safe alternative for a circular product cycle.

The CreaSolv® process encompasses special CreaSolv® solvent formulations, that do not contain hazardous substances according to the REACH directive and are therefore of non-risk for users and the environment. The scientists developed a specific formulation of solvents for the recycling of PVC floor coverings, which extracts the plastic of outdated shredded PVC floor coverings and separates it from critical phthalate plasticizers. These critical plasticizers are safely destroyed through a chemical reaction and transformed into uncritical REACH-compliant plasticizers. The recovered PVC is precipitated and dried. Through adding customized additives and stabilizers, reconditioned recycled PVC is created and ready for re-use.
The CreaSolv® technology for PVC has already been tested at laboratory scale and showed feasibility. The aim of the EU project Circular flooring is to elaborate on the technical and commercial feasibility of this recycling process for PVC floor coverings at an industrial scale.

Target Groups

The project results are relevant to the following Stakeholders:

  • PVC Industry, especially I the area of Production and Recycling
  • Citizens benefit from the particularly environmentally friendly process

BayFOR as partner

The Bavarian Research Alliance has been actively involved in the development and professional preparation of the EU application – especially the conception, structuring and budgeting of the application for EU funding until the project start in June 2019. As a project partner, BayFOR supports Circular Flooring with project management. As the leader of the work package “Dissemination and Stakeholder Interaction” BayFOR is responsible for all project-related press and public relations activities.

Funding Period

The project is funded by the European Commission from June 2019 until May 2023 and will receive about 5.4 million Euros (Horizon 2020, Call: H2020-CE-SC5-01-2018) under Grant Agreement No. 821366.


Horizon 2020

Consortium

Eleven companies and research institutes from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Greece are part of the project. Circular Flooring is coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute of Process Engineering and Packaging IVV in Freising, Germany.

Other German project partners are:

Bavarian Research Alliance GmbH, Germany
Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
Chemson Polymer-Additive AG, Austria
European Resilient Flooring Manufacturers’ Institute (ERFMI), Belgium
Lober GmbH & Co. Waste Disposal-KG, Germany
National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks, France
National Technical University of Athens, Greece
thinkstep AG, Germany
Vinnolit GmbH & Co. KG, Germany
Working Group PVC Floor Covering Recycling GbR (AgPR), Germany

Contact

Dr. Martin Schlummer

Dr Martin Schlummer
Business Field Manager Recycling and Environment
Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV
Phone: +49 (0) 8161 491-⁠750
Email: martin.schlummer@no-spam-pleaseivv.fraunhofer.de  

M. Sc. Swetlana Wagner
Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV
Phone: +49 (0) 8161 491-⁠756
Email: swetlana.wagner@no-spam-pleaseivv.fraunhofer.de

Contact at BayFOR

M.Sc. Melanie Schulte

M.Sc. Melanie Schulte
Project Manager
Phone : +49 (0)89 9901 888-124
E-mail : schulte@no-spam-pleasebayfor.org

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