Nonwovens finds creative ways to recycle PET bottles
Freudenberg Nonwovens’ Spunlaid Division will
recycle 12.4 million 2-liter bottles this year, thanks to new
research and a novel commercial product.
Lutradur® ECO is a polyester industrial backing made from 100
percent post consumer recycled (PCR) plastic. It’s being produced
in company facilities that recycle their scrap through a closed-loop
manufacturing process, resulting in a high-quality product range
that is helping customers and Freudenberg Nonwovens achieve sustainable,
green operations and design.
Development of Lutradur ECO has evolved over the past 10 years
as Freudenberg sought ways to help its construction, landscape
and filtration customers achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design (LEED) credits for their use of sustainable products.
Material and manufacturing engineers pushed to increase the amount
of post industrial recycled (PIR) material used to produce Freudenberg’s
traditional Lutradur material from 15 percent to 90 percent.
When the company migrated to 100 percent PCR, Lutradur ECO material
Lutradur and Lutradur ECO are used to produce building and construction
substrates; landscaping and weed block materials; residential
and commercial wallpaper and carpet backings; automotive floor
mats and carpeting; and specialized filtration devices.
Lutradur ECO is also used in landscaping fabrics and secondary
carpet backings for green carpet tiles.
The product is produced at Freudenberg’s Durham, North Carolina
plant. The process begins with the collection, bundling, shredding
and cleaning of discarded beverage bottles made of polyethylene
terephthalate (PET). Freudenberg Nonwovens then uses proprietary
spunlaid manufacturing technology to make rolls of nonwoven polyester
fabric from the shredded plastic. Every square yard of 85-gram-weight
Lutradur ECO fabric produced keeps six 16-fluid-ounce plastic
bottles out of a landfill. In most applications, this product
performs as well as backing material made from virgin plastic.
Equally important, Freudenberg Nonwovens’ Durham plant has implemented
stringent guidelines to ensure that the nonwoven scrap produced
in the manufacturing process is recycled back into the product,
thus creating a closed loop industrial system that further reduces
the operation’s environmental footprint. Freudenberg’s Durham
facility recycles over 9,000 tons of waste polyester annually.
Demand for Lutradur ECO has been growing so steadily that Freudenberg
Nonwovens will restart an idled spunbond line to increase production
of the recycled fiber by the end of the year. The move will result
in creation of 16 new jobs at the Durham plant.