Circular economy for phthalate-containing PVC flooring

RESEARCH PROJECT »Circular Flooring«

Logo Circular Flooring
Process Graphic Circular Flooring
Illustration: Circular Flooring - Circular Economy for PVC flooring waste containing phthalates
EU flag plus "Horizon 2020" text supplement
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 821366

Phthalate-containing PVC flooring cannot be recycled by conventional means

Due to the versatility and durability (> 30 years), PVC is commonly used in the construction industry for amongst other things window frames, pipes, and flooring. However, at the end of their lifetime these PVC products pose great challenges for the circular economy.

Old PVC flooring usually contain specific plasticizers that can no longer be used in PVC production today for consumer protection reasons. The processing of PVC flooring for the production of PVC recyclates in virgin material quality therefore requires the separation of plastizisers. The only alternative would otherwise be thermal recovery, which wastes valuable resources.

CreaSolv® Process for recycling phthalate-containing PVC flooring

The EU funded »Circular Flooring« project aims to recover high quality PVC from end-of-life flooring by removing the undesired phthalates. The recovered material will be PVC that complies with the European REACH Regulation and that is suitable for processing into new PVC flooring. This will all be made possible using the CreaSolv® Process patented by the Fraunhofer IVV.

Post-consumer PVC flooring waste will be collected and then shredded. This material will then undergo the CreaSolv® process to remove additives such as phthalates. The separated phthalates will be subjected to a chemical hydrogenation process, converting them to harmless plasticizers that are compliant with the REACH regulation. The recycled high-quality PVC will then be prepared for reuse as flooring (e.g. by adding new stabilizers and recycled plasticizers). The project partners will demonstrate the process and the new application on a technical scale at the end of the development work. »Circular Flooring« thus makes an important contribution to the future recovery of PVC and supports the European strategy for plastics in the circular economy.

The project consortium comprises 11 European companies and research organizations (from Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, and Greece). The Fraunhofer IVV is coordinating the project.