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Fraunhofer, SABIC, Procter & Gamble partner for mask

Jun 18, 2021
Fraunhofer, SABIC, Procter & Gamble partner for mask



Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT, SABIC and Procter & Gamble (P&G) will collaborate in an innovative circular economy pilot project aimed at closed-loop recycling of single-use facemasks. Due to COVID-19, use of billions of disposable facemasks is raising environmental concerns as they are discarded in public spaces, parks, open-air venues and beaches. Apart from the challenge of dealing with such huge volumes of essential personal healthcare items in a sustainable way, simply throwing the used masks away for disposal on landfill sites or in incineration plants represents a loss of valuable feedstock for new material.

“Recognizing the challenge, we set out to explore how used facemasks could potentially be returned into the value chain of new facemask production,” says Dr. Peter Dziezok, Director R&D Open Innovation at P&G. “But creating a true circular solution from both a sustainable and an economically feasible perspective takes partners. Therefore, we teamed up with Fraunhofer CCPE and Fraunhofer UMSICHT’s expert scientists and SABIC’s T&I specialists to investigate potential solutions.”

As part of the pilot, P&G collected used facemasks worn by employees or given to visitors at its manufacturing and research sites in Germany. To help demonstrate a potential step change in this scenario, special collection bins were set up, and the collected used masks were sent to Fraunhofer for further processing in a dedicated research pyrolysis plant.

The pyrolysis oil was then sent to SABIC to be used as feedstock for the production of new PP resin. Finally, to close the loop, the PP polymer was supplied to P&G, where it was processed into non-woven fibres material.

The entire closed loop pilot project from facemask collection to production was developed and implemented within only seven months. The transferability of advanced recycling to other feedstocks and chemical products is being further researched at Fraunhofer CCPE.

According to Mark Vester, Global Circular Economy Leader, SABIC, the high-quality circular PP polymer obtained in this pilot clearly demonstrates that closed-loop recycling is achievable.

Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT is a pioneer in sustainable energy and raw materials management.

Source: Fraunhofer Press Release

Image Source: Google Images


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