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Dow is Bringing Back the Renuva Name

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Dow Giving New Life to Old Mattresses

Submitted by: DOW

Categories: Fair Trade & Supply Chain, Sustainability

Posted: Jul 31, 2020 – 02:30 PM EST Click here to watch video

Jul. 31 /CSRwire/ – If stacked, mattresses discarded in Europe every year would exceed the height of Mount Everest – by 678 times1. Approximately 30 million mattresses are thrown away, and most of this bulky, non-biodegradable waste-stream ends up in the landfill.

Through its RENUVA™ Mattress Recycling Program, Dow aims to reduce this mountain of waste by giving polyurethane (PU) foam from end-of-life mattresses a new life. The program will take discarded mattress foam and turn it back into raw material (polyols) through chemical recycling, the process of converting waste into feedstock. The new raw material will then be used in flexible or rigid foam products to go into applications such as building insulation boards and even new mattresses.


To make this happen, Dow Polyurethanes has been working with recycling companies, equipment and material manufacturers, brand owners and other value chain participants in Europe to put in place a new business ecosystem to create a circular economy for polyurethanes. The program aims to divert up to 200,000 mattresses from landfills in France every year.

“We believe that our materials need to be as valuable at the end of their life as they are at the start and we are addressing the challenge of discarded mattresses head-on,” said Ana Carolina Haracemiv, senior commercial director, Industrial Intermediaries and Infrastructure for Europe, Middle East, Africa, India, Dow Polyurethanes.

This is no simple task. While converting PU foams to polyols is not new, it has never been implemented for post-consumer waste because of the complexity of the value chain and technology. For example, in most countries, there is an absence of adequate waste collection facilities that prevents any stable sourcing for chemical recycling. In addition, the downstream market for such polyols is limited.

“For this reason, the RENUVA™ Mattress Recycling Program is being established first in France, because it has one of the most advanced regulations and initiatives for mattress recycling,” explained Lucie Porcelli, sustainability leader for Europe, Middle East, Africa, India, Dow Polyurethanes. “It has already put in place Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes for furniture and mattresses to facilitate a separate collection of waste and support recovery and recycling of different materials.”


To close this challenging resource loop, Dow has adopted an integrated approach and is collaborating with value chain partners to advance a circular economy for polyurethane foam. Progress to date includes:

  • Developing a commercially viable recycling method: Since 2017, Dow partnered with the German-based H&S Anlagentechnik to supply the turnkey installation and process know-how for RENUVA™ polyols. Specific chemical recycling recipes have been developed to tailor the resulting RENUVA™ polyol for different applications and to optimize performance and maximize the utilization of the polyol in new foam formulations.
  • Scaling production: In May 2020, Dow announced it would build an industrial-scale production unit for recycling end-of-life foam at Orrion Chemicals Orgaform in Semoy, France. The installation is expected to take place during the second half of 2020, with the first batch of RENUVA™ polyols expected to be delivered in the first half of 2021.
  • Sourcing recycled material: This month, Dow announced a new collaboration with Eco-mobilier. The French mattress and furniture EPR organization will supply polyurethane foam from post-consumer mattresses to the recycling unit in Semoy.

The program supports Dow’s 2025 “Advancing a Circular Economy” Sustainability Goal, as well some of the circular economy goals set out in the European Union’s Green Deal. In addition, the process has the potential to substantially improve the carbon footprint of flexible foam production for mattresses – up to 30%, according to initial life cycle assessments.

“We consider the RENUVA™ Mattress Recycling Program to just be the beginning,” said Marcel Moeller, global marketing and sustainability director, Dow Polyurethanes. “By demonstrating that polyurethanes can be chemically recycled when the right eco-system exists, we hope to stimulate the entire PU industry and create more demand for a process that could then be extended to other markets.”

To learn more about Dow’s focus on the circular economy, read our 2019 Sustainability Report.

Assuming an average mattress height of 20 cm; height of Mount Everest is 8,848 m

Circa 2007:

26 September 2007

Odor-free bio-polyols with new Dow technology

Dow presents technology for oil-based polyols with superior performance

The Dow Chemical Company has introduced a process named RenuvaTM Renewable Resource Technology that helps polyurethane manufacturers make performance-based products with reduced impact on the environment. Dow’s proprietary process reacts the broken-down and functionalized soybean oil molecule with traditional polyurethane components creating natural oil-based polyols with consistent performance.

Dow’s work on natural oil-based polyols, began in the early 1990s. With the new technology, producing bio-based polyols that are virtually odor-free and can be customized to deliver enhanced performance benefits in a broad array of applications. Polyols made with Renuva technology will help manufacturers of commercial and consumer products in the furniture and bedding, automotive, carpet and CASE (coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers) markets to more effectively differentiate themselves and meet their customers’ growing demand for finished products that are both high quality and environmentally sound.

Doug Warner, global business director for Dow Polyols, says: “For Dow, Renuva technology provides an opportunity to decrease dependence on petroleum-based feedstocks. For our customers, it allows them to create “green” products that contain high levels of renewable content while at the same time delivering the performance their customers want.”

Products “virtually odor-free”
Polyols based on the new technology are designed not to have the odor that plagued previous generations of bio-based polyols, which has been a significant obstacle to commercial acceptance.

“Polyol solutions based on Renuva technology support Dow’s strategy to grow and develop differentiated, tailor-made performance products that promote our customers’ success while reducing environmental impact through technical innovation and industry collaboration,” O’Driscoll says.

Commercial production to start this year
Commercial quantities of natural oil-based polyols are expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2007. Dow’s market development capabilities in Houston, Texas, will serve North America, Latin America and Europe with the ability to expand production to meet demand. Initial offerings are from soybean oil, but Dow will continue to invest in exploring other vegetable oil options for polyols.

Based on third-party validation, life-cycle analysis shows the new process to be greenhouse gas neutral and to use 60 percent fewer fossil fuel resources than conventional polyol technology.

Press release Breakthrough Technology from Dow Polyurethanes Promotes Sustainable Chemistry and Excellent
Product Performance

(Cf. news of 2007-08-08, 2007-05-31 and 2006-10-29.)

Source: The Dow Chemical Company, press release, 2007-09-25.