Flexible Polyurethane foam, or PU foam, is an extremely versatile product with a whole range of uses in furniture, bedding and industrial applications. It’s an everyday product, so it’s important for consumers and customers to understand how Vita is committed to and investing in reducing waste, increasing recycling and conserving natural resources in pursuit of a net zero footprint.
The first principle for Vita’s ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) agenda is driving circularity. This means Vita aims to reduce the amount of waste we create, transitioning to more sustainable raw materials, and innovating with our suppliers and customers to increase recycling and reduce our Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.
Recycling is an important element of this process, here we explain some elements.
- We are committed to driving towards zero manufacturing waste to landfill at our operating sites. Two of our larger sites at Middleton and Accrington in the UK, which are responsible for 22% of our output, already send zero manufacturing waste to landfill. This is achieved through employees sorting waste at separate Dry, Mixed Recycling (DMR) points and collections by a specialist in waste services.
- Reducing packaging is another key area. None of our just in term conversion plants of the Technical Division purchase polyethene film packaging. Instead, the plants receive compressed foam blocks from our Accrington facility wrapped in poly film that is reused to wrap finished products for shipping to customers. Surplus poly film is baled and then sold to brokers.
- 100% of excess foam is repurposed through our managed operations. Foam is manufactured in large blocks of approximately 2 metre x 2 metre x 1 metres (the exact size may vary for different products). This foam is sold to customers and conversion units and is destined for a number of products such as furniture, bedding, or technical products. During conversion (or cutting) some foam remains after parts have been cut from the block – this foam is called trim foam. Through CNC (computer numerical control) cutting techniques and careful materials management, the amount of trim foam created is kept to a minimum. We ensure its life does not end there. Every piece of trim is collected and processed to become material for another new product such as carpet underlay, or applications with specific needs that cannot be achieved with standard foam. Vita collects trim from its customers across Europe and enters this trim for re-processing.
We have two processes to create new material: rebond and regrind operations:
Trim foam is collected from all Vita plants and shipped to the Ball & Young facility in Corby, UK. It is broken down and mixed with an isocyanate prepolymer. The mix is then moulded, pressed and injected with steam to create a foam block which can be converted into a range of new products.b. Regrind
Vita has for several years used an innovative technology that pulverises foam by-products and incorporates this as a raw material at specific foaming sites in Germany and Lithuania. This process creates a raw material with a precisely defined grain size, meaning it can be added to flexible polyurethane foam to modify its structure and, as a result, final product characteristics.
- In 2020, The Vita Group and Dow Polyurethanes announced a new collaboration to produce flexible PU foams made with RENUVA ™polyols, raw materials created from recycled mattress content. The RENUVA™ Mattress Recycling Program will close the loop for post-consumer mattresses and aims to recycle up to 200,000 mattresses a year in France. The Vita Group will begin production of its Orbis foam made from this polyol at its ICOA facility in Crancey, France, in 2021.
- In 2021, as part of its commitment to advancing a circular economy, Vita partnered with Evonik to develop an efficient chemical recycling process to convert flexible PU foams to the original polyol raw material.
The Vita Group is Europe’s leading flexible foam solutions provider. Built on over 70 years of heritage, Vita develops, manufactures, and markets a wide range of value-added and differentiated flexible polyurethane foam and Talalay latex products. For more information, please contact email@example.com.