Spotlight on Ecobulk – Circularity for Composites

Aug 6, 2021 | Uncategorized

Ecobulk is a large-scale demonstration of circularity in three sectors – automotive, furniture and construction. Each has its individual challenges and particularities. In the case of the construction sector, the project has developed a set of new materials and products derived from thermoset composite waste streams including wind turbine blades and plastic pipes. The new materials, properly assembled following the Circular Design guidelines created at the beginning of the project, can in theory be endlessly re-circulated with just a small addition of virgin material. The resulting products are similar to a wood plastic composite with great properties particularly well suited for light outdoor constructions such as sheds, decking, and outdoor features. 

But why so much attention for composites? Significant stocks of composite materials exist within the transport, construction, energy and marine industries. Within wind turbines alone there is a stock of 2.5 million tonnes of GFRP. In 2017, the European market for GFRP was over 1.1 million tonnes and demand and applications for composite products is growing. In Europe an estimated 304,000 tonnes of composite waste was generated in 2015. This growth is driven by the opportunities that are available through the use of these high strength / low weight materials that allow for lighter constructions which in the end means costs and energy savings. The end-of-life for composites is complicated, and there are few good alternatives to landfilling and incineration at the moment. 

The combination of Ecobulk’s new re-manufacturing process and the wide availability of the material for remanufacture combine perfectly for an interesting business model and opportunity.  

Read more about this development in the Ecobulk brochure for “Recycling of GFRP composite | Developing viable products from waste GFRP, available at the Ecobulk project website.  

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