Flooring is one of the world’s largest sources of non-recyclable waste. In Europe alone, approximately 1.6 billion m2 waste is created every year in a market with a value of approximately € 11 billion. In the floor covering market, rugs have a share of approximately 30%, and this share is growing rapidly because many consumers are switching to hard floors with rugs on them. Almost the entire rug market still uses fossil-based plastics, dyed with methods that require the use of a lot of water and chemicals, and after use the carpets are incinerated or dumped.
The production volume of biobased plastics is growing fast, of which the volume of polylactic acid (PLA) is the largest and is now starting to grow large enough to make it economic to separate it out from the large stream of waste. PLA has a chemical structure that on the one hand makes molecular recycling of PLA relatively easy, and on the other hand, a very wide range of technical properties can be realized with PLA. So, if PLA can be sorted from the waste stream after the use phase, it is possible to make the raw material available for mechanical or molecular recycling.
All in all, a huge pile of waste is created by floor coverings, while there are very good alternatives based on bio-based plastics with a very low CO2 footprint, and the recycling has developed to such an extent that a truly closed-chain approach is soon becoming a reality. Hence this project to close the chain for fully recyclable rugs based on bio-based plastics.
The aim of the project is to investigate and evaluate all steps in order to establish a joint business plan to enable the launch of the products as developed and tested through this project after the project.