Sustainable innovation programmes
With the goal of leading the transition to a circular economy and a low-carbon society and promoting well-being at every age, our Sustainable Innovation Department’s R&D efforts are centred around four innovation programmes, each led by an Innovation Manager.
Developed through permanent collaboration between product development teams and SID innovation teams, three of the programmes are aligned with the specific market expectations from our divisions. They will bring more sustainable solutions to our Engineered Foams, Insulation and Bedding customers such as new comfort foam for bedding or seating applications, or finding solutions to fulfil the requirements for technical foams in the field of silencing.
The corporate programme covers projects impacting all three divisions and coordinates all initiatives to prepare durable polyurethane products for the circular economy. This spans the entire product value chain, from raw materials to polyurethane recycling and reuse.
These four programmes underpin our sustainability strategy, differentiate Recticel from its competitors and generate shared value for all stakeholders.
Fit² – new comfort foam for bedding and seating
The Fit² programme seeks to gain a deeper scientific understanding of comfort for seating and sleeping systems. The new knowledge is reflected in the Sleep Triangle as the guideline for the development of new, more durable and sustainable materials and systems.
As a first result, a new generation of Geltex® foams for mattresses was launched at the Cologne IMM trade fair in January 2018. These foams offer excellent support, ideal pressure distribution and good climate control. Additionally, they contain CO2-based raw materials, partially replacing traditional fossil fuel-based raw materials. At the same time, the new Geltex® foam family is more resistant to humidity, temperature changes and mechanical stress, offering a longer lifetime at the same level of comfort.
In January 2020, we introduced 100% recyclable Geltex® mattresses with covers from recycled materials at the Cologne IMM trade fair. This year will see the launch of a range of new developments that underline our vision of sustainable sleep comfort.
Silencing – technical foams with enhanced silencing properties
The Silencing programme concentrates on the development of differentiated and innovative acoustic solutions for automotive and industry markets. The aim of our research is to reduce noise impacts contributing to more comfortable and productive environments.
We established a centre of competence for acoustics with state-of-the-art equipment, methods and tools for the characterisation of the acoustic performance of materials and solutions.
In 2019, we further extended our acoustic lab capabilities from small-scale and pilot-scale testing of materials and solutions towards real-life testing of complete systems in their applications. We have developed an in-depth expertise to better understand the fundamentals of acoustics: sound, its propagation and the different ways of minimising its impact on the environment.
Advanced multilayered complexes are under development for use in automotive applications, including electric vehicles, and also in low noise industrial equipment applications, such as compressors and gensets. It demonstrates our ambition to be the global preferred supplier of silencing solutions for these industries.
Low Lambda - reduced lambda values in insulation
Sustainability has always been core for the thermal insulation business. Our thermal insulation solutions for building renovations and new constructions contribute to a low-carbon society: CO2 emissions avoided by our insulation solutions add up to more than 40 times the carbon footprint of the activities of our four business lines combined.
The Low Lambda programme concentrates on developing new rigid foams with better insulation values. Improving the insulation value of a product has an immense, positive effect on natural resource consumption. Xentro® features a 13% lambda value reduction, achieving the lowest lambda value ever for rigid polyurethane panels. Research is ongoing to push the boundaries of insulation properties even further.
Comfofix® combines a thermal insulation panel with a recycled, flexible foam, acoustic layer, enabling an easy-to-install pitched roof insulation product. Du.Panel® X, an advanced thermal insulation panel for the agricultural sector, combines a high insulation value with enhanced fire resistance properties.
In 2019, we developed Lumix®, a new type of thermal insulation board for pitched roofs on agricultural buildings. The Lumix® sheets are covered with a unique dark layer that absorbs rather than reflects light, thus providing more comfort for domestic fowl and pigs in the barn and, therefore, excellent for organic livestock farming.
Corporate sustainability programme
This programme steers all initiatives that aim to prepare durable polyurethane products for the circular economy. This covers the whole value chain of our products, from raw materials to the recycling and reuse of polyurethane. Partnerships with all actors in the value chain are essential to a successful transition. A variety of large projects are currently running, in collaboration with different consortia as enablers, that aim to realise our sustainability goals.
Two projects focussing on developing recycling options for polyurethanes are underway:
Recticel coordinates the PUReSmart project, launched on 1 January 2019 for a duration of four years. It is supported by EUR 6 million in funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. The PUReSmart collaborative consortium gathers nine partners from six different countries and seeks ways of transitioning from the current linear lifecycle of polyurethane (PU) products to a circular economy model.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement N° 814543.
Besides recycling projects, Recticel also investigates the production of polyurethane using raw materials with lower carbon footprints. Two different projects illustrate this commitment:
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement N° 768919.
SWEETWOODS has received funding from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme, under grant agreement N° 792061.