A step forward for the recycling of mattresses

As part of the project activities, DELAX (ES) is investigating possibilities to incorporate post-consumer materials in the production of new mattresses, by retrieving mattresses from the Spanish public authority CVI. In parallel, Fraunhofer ICT is performing analysis and treatment of foam materials received from Ecofrag to obtain secondary polyols.

During the last months Delax has arranged the collection of 600 kg of used mattresses from the partner Consorcio Valencia Interior (CVI) which is the most obvious regional source of used mattresses close to the factory. Currently mattresses are covered with soil for landfilling (1).


(1) Mattresses being transported and prepared for landfilling

For the purposes of the URBANREC project during a period of 1 week, the collection of mattresses was organised and a separation was made between spring and foam mattresses. After collection used mattresses were pre-cut (2) and prepared to be transported and milled to a specific size.

(2) Selected foam mattresses for the first period collection (200kg). 

(3) Pre-cut mattresses ready for feeding the milling equipment. 

From the milling plant, 500 kg milled foam from used mattresses was sent to a rebounding pilot plant in France where first trials will be performed.

Figure 4. Resulting milled foam from used mattresses.

Meanwhile AIMPLAS has developed a lab scale process with foam samples retrieved from industrial waste coming from Delax and following Delax specifications (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Samples of rebounding at lab scale (foam from industrial waste).

Additionally, Delax has visited the partner EUROSPUMA to detail their foam specifications and innovation capabilities for the URBANREC Project (formulation of recycled polyol for the mattress soft layer).

In parallel, Fraunhofer ICT performed analysis of the post-consumer foam material received from Ecofrag. The foam material was analyzed by different spectroscopic methods (e. g. Raman, FTIR-ATR, NIR) with the aim to distinguish the main components of polyurethane foams.

 Spectroscopy methods can be easily performed. Fraunhofer is cooperating with Rampf to look for suitable separation systems for the bulky waste, especially for the different foam types. The plan is to implement this system at an industrial scale at a later stage. 

Fraunhofer investigated different extraction methods to regain additives of the foam which can disturb the solvolysis process, for instance CO2-extraction which is already a settled industrial process. 

In terms of foam treatment, Fraunhofer performed different solvolysis trials with post-consumer foam, comparing hydrolysis and glycolysis process. Fraunhofer is equipped with different autoclaves which are suitable up to 500 °C, 400 bars and 15 L. First trials are finished and the products will be analyzed. 


» Publication Date: 16/06/2017


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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement N° 690103