Great advances in resource efficiency - recycling nonwoven process waste

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Courtesy of Ahlstrom Corporation

In the past, there has been no simple technical solution for recycling nonwoven process waste, which consists of side trim and reject rolls. They have been sent to landfill or in the best case incinerated for energy recovery.

In October 2011, a pair of recycling extruders was installed on the Windsor Locks, CT, USA, spunbond machine producing nonwovens for medical fabrics. The purpose of the installation was to recycle waste trim and rolls directly back into the process without first transforming them into pellets. This allows for less degradation of the material and a higher recycling rate as well as less overall processing of the material. The system is capable of recycling all of the polypropylene waste trim and side rolls the process generates.

Half a year later, a similar installation was made in the state-of-the-art SMS nonwoven machine in Mundra, India. The machine also makes fabrics for medical end use. The online recyclers directly recycle trims and reject fabric into the spunbond beams.

In both cases, the material efficiency has been improved by 7-10%. The integrity of the raw material is maintained and no negative effect is shown on product quality or performance.

The end result in both cases is not only greatly improved resource efficiency, but also a reduced environmental footprint of both the operations and the products.

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