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EuCIA’s member Plastindustrien, the Danish Plastics Federation, organised a seminar on Next-Gen Composites Recycling in May. The event attracted around 80 participants to Copenhagen to explore sustainable end-of-life solutions for composite materials.

The programme included presentations from Plastindustrien, MAKEEN Energy, a Danish company focused on responsible energy solutions and a partner in the DecomBlades project, and leading wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, a partner in the DecomBlades and CETEC projects. DecomBlades is working to commercialise technologically-mature wind turbine blade recycling technologies – mechanical recycling, pyrolysis, and reprocessing into cement.  CETEC (Circular Economy for Thermosets Epoxy Composites), a collaboration between Vestas, Olin, Danish Technological Institute and Aarhus University, is developing a chemical process to separate fibres from epoxy resin. The epoxy is further broken up into base components similar to virgin materials and these can then be reintroduced into the manufacture of new blades.

EuCIA’s perspective of composites circularity was offered by managing director Raphaël Pleynet, and cement association CEMBUREAU outlined the benefits of reprocessing of composites waste in cement manufacture.

The speakers then took part in a panel discussion. Topics included the barriers to the deployment of composites recycling technologies, the readiness and scalability of different solutions, and the need to develop markets for the recycled materials.

The discussion confirmed that technical solutions to develop the circular composites supply chain exist, but the market expects life cycle assessment (LCA) data for the various recycling options. Barriers such as logistics also need attention, and use of recycled materials in both existing and new markets needs to be stimulated. A cross-sector approach involving all stakeholders through alliances is required to support the composites industry in creating a sustainable future.

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