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Freudenberg claims to be Europe’s largest user of recycled PET in construction applications. The technology group has been active in recycling since the 1990s. The company’s plants in Novedrate and Pisticci Scalo, Italy, as well as in Colmar, France, recycle millions of PET bottles every day. The purified recyclate is processed into nonwovens that are used in construction, for example as substrates for bituminous waterproof membranes.

The company’s first recycling plant was established in Novedrate in the 1990s and uses PET bottles from household waste for the production of polyester. Further recycling plants were subsequently constructed in Pisticci and Colmar. Today, around 65% of the PET bottles they use come from European collection systems, in which plastic waste is separated according to various recycling materials. The remainder is purchased from independent sorting companies.

The process begins with the removal of any foreign materials from the bottles. In a second step, the bottles are washed and shredded into flakes. These flakes are then melted and converted into fibres (staple fibre technology) or fed directly into the spinning process (spun-laid technology) to produce recycled polyester nonwovens. These are used as substrates for bitumen membranes for waterproofing.

In addition to construction-related applications, old PET bottles can also take on a new life as a Vileda broom, filler materials for clothing or fibres for furniture.

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