Composites recycling: which method fits the best for REPOXYBLE?

Composites recycling: which method fits the best for REPOXYBLE?

REPOXYBLE aims to develop a new generation of multifunctional, safe and sustainable by design epoxy-based composites. Affordable recycling, both economically and environmentally, is a crucial aspect to make these composites competitive on the market, and capable of replace the fossil-based ones currently used.

But which recycling method is more suitable for our products?

 

To answer, we conducted a literature review focusing on epoxy composites recycling, analyzing five methods with their advantages and disadvantages: mechanical, thermal, chemical, electrical, biological.

We discussed our results at the 19th International Symposium on Waste Management, Resource Recovery and Sustainable Landfilling in October 2023: Christoph Olscher and Florian Part from our partner BOKU presented the innovative REPOXYBLE approach during the session on innovative recycled materials from waste (download the abstract here).

 

The state-of-the-art: five recycling methods

 

REPOXYBLE choice

Chemical and biological recycling are the only methods that allow for most of the composite materials to be recovered, but we still miss lots of information on the internal mechanism (enzyme cascades, recycled material quality, etc.) of biological recycling. Mechanical recycling is used as a pre-treatment for almost every other recycling method, but if the goal is to recovery high quality fiber, the use should be limited.

So, REPOXYBLE tests different sizes of composite material for chemical recycling.

 

As chemical recycling enables the recovery of the epoxy resin either as its base materials (monomer + hardener) or as intermediate building blocks, it would be especially useful when applied to bio-based epoxy resins, like REPOXYBLE ones.

Bio-based plastics are still considered more expensive than fossil-based ones, but through development of new production methods, supportive legislative measures as well as costumer awareness of sustainability, they are predicted to be cost competitive around 2030. Being able to recover the “expensive” bio-based polymers would negate the economic advantage of “cheaper”, mass produced and exported fossil-based composites. The main aim for the application of bio-based plastics is the reduction of climate change impact as well as (legal) compliance with European law and goals from the European bioeconomy strategy, the chemical strategy for sustainability and other.