Innovation Driven by Sustainability: Covestro Brings Circular Economy into Life Applications

With global challenges such as resource depletion and rapid climate change, it is imperative to reflect on the environmental impact of the linear economic model. In order to accelerate the development of a circular economy, Covestro, a high-tech polymer manufacturer, has been invited by the Environmental Protection Administration  (EPA) to attend “Taiwan Innotech Expo 2020”, which is hosted by ten ministries of government. From September 24 to 26, Covestro will display application solutions based on a circular economy concept in different fields, such as electrical and electronics, sports and leisure industries as well as fashion accessories in booth number 1 of the Sustainability Zone in the International Exhibition Area.  Covestro will also participate the Circular Economy Green Lecture stage activity at Sustainability Zone on Sep. 25th.

“Although domestic and foreign industry are facing significant challenges due to the COVID-19, EPA is still committed to promoting the circular economy and encouraging exchange and cooperation between industries.  Plenty of outstanding enterprises both domestic and foreign are invited to Taiwan Innotech Expo 2020, to show their extraordinary innovation results,” said Shen Chih-hsiu, Deputy Minister of EPA, who is encouraging industrial transformation to a circular economy.

“Covestro is committed to the development of a circular economy, with a brand new strategic vision of " We will be fully circular.", and hopes to interact actively with Taiwan's innovators to make the circular concept  flourish in various industries.”said Michael Lee, Managing Director of Covestro Taiwan.

Pave the way to a circular economy  for end of life material

Engineering plastics such as polycarbonate are extremely valuable and should not be treated as waste after the end of an application’s product life. Covestro is researching innovative solutions for material recycling. By maintaining the polymer with mechanical recycling technology, with the processes of sorting, shreding, cleaning, and re-granulation, and based on the different physical requirements of the product applications, adding 20% to 75% of post-consumer recycled polycarbonate (PCS) materials, and re-made into part of components for 3C consumer products, such as the enclosure of electronics or sunglasses. In addition to the technology of mechanical recycling, Covestro will continue to research solutions of chemical recycling, to make polymer go back to the molecules with chemolysis, enzymatic recycling, and smart pyrolysis technologies, thereby supplementing the mixed waste of plastic that cannot be solved by mechanical recycling.

Alternative raw materials

In order to close the carbon cycle, Covestro also reuse carbon from biomass and CO2 to produce the Desmopan® environmentally friendly series of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Considering that the materials can be dismantled and recycled efficiently after the product life cycle ends, Covestro has also developed an innovative design for shoes which are entirely made from TPU, including midsole, outsole, upper and other parts. These sports shoes not only demonstrates the possibility of using alternative raw material instead of fossil fuels to produce plastic, but also incorporates the concept of recycling and reuse into product design thinking.

Extending product life

Extending the life of products is also an important factor in a circular economy. Covestro is showcasing an Air Fom patented solution for an airless tire, which is the result of cooperation with a Taiwanese company (Air Fom). This solution will prevent the possibility of puncturing a good tire when it hits stones, shards of glass, nails and other sharp objects. With the advantages of being light, elastic, maintenance-free and recyclable, this invention overcomes the drawbacks of previous airless products. Unlike the butyl rubber tubes that are used in conventional tires, this airless tire based on an expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (eTPU) from Covestro is maintenance-free and most importantly, recyclable. Moreover, this material solution can also benefit bicycle rental companies for whom a constant operational readiness of their vehicles is important.

Circular economy has gradually become the guiding principle of global development, and the plastic industry plays an indispensable role in the transformation of linear economy to circular economy. Covestro is focused on four main areas: “Alternative raw materials”, “Innovative recycling”, “Renewable energy” and “Joint solutions”. Covestro is calling for more partners in the value chain to fully realize a sustainable production model.