Reflections on JEC World 2018: Why we need composites recycling
JEC World, the biggest trade fair on composite materials closed its 2018 exhibition this March.
This year’s JEC gathered a number of innovations; materials with incorporated smart functionalities, new modelling and simulation tools to better predict material behaviour, and increased usage of digital engineering in the development and manufacturing of composite materials.
What caught our attention though, is the increasing focus on the end-of-life treatment of composite materials, and particularly recycling.
The growing demand for composites, together with the increase in number of applications, has raised the next big question: what will happen to all the composite waste that is generated either from production or end-of-life parts?
In Europe alone, 40,000 tonnes of composite waste are deposited in landfills annually and, by the end of 2015, 306,000 tonnes of composite waste were accumulated worldwide. As much as 40% of total production of composites ends up being wasted, either as scrap or defective parts, representing a major loss of resources and energy.
This year’s JEC hosted an increased number of organisations active in the field of composites recycling. We were happy to see that companies such as Connora Tech and Entropy Resins have managed to increase their recycling capacity over the last year with several partnerships in the US and Europe. Composites and recycling platform Cetim Cermat also won the JEC innovation award in the sustainability category.
Looking to commercial activities, some non-profit initiatives have popped up, such as the French Recycling Carbon, a newly founded organisation aiming to reduce FRP waste by matching the supply of FRP waste with the demand.
We started working on composites recycling towards the end of 2015, with a composites recycling study we developed together with SusChem and CEFIC – the European Chemical Industry Council – followed by the elaboration of a white paper on composites circularity in Europe.
Currently, we are setting up a collaborative European project, which aims to bring together multiple stakeholders of the FRP value chain to commonly find solutions to the FRP waste issue.