Technology for Wood and Natural Fiber-Based Materials

Research Project

Recycling material from Wood-plastic Composites (WPC)

In principle, WPC are marketed as recyclable products. However, a specific waste legislation classification for WPC does not currently exist. The recycling depots are faced with increasing quantities of WPC which cannot be allocated to a particular area. “Internal cycling” investigations have been carried out for WPC and natural fibre-reinforced plastics. In this research project, the question will be asked as to whether a renewed material usage (“end-of-life recycling”) is technically feasible for WPC.

© Fraunhofer WKI

 

Recycling is principally divided into two variants; “internal recycling”, in which production residue i.e. relatively undamaged material is re-used during the manufacturing process, and “end-of-life recycling”, in which the objects are materially or energetically recycled following a certain period of use (see diagram).

In practice, “internal recycling” is already being carried out by many WPC manufacturers, not least due to the cost factor. According to our research findings, only “internal recycling” investigations have been carried out for WPC and natural fibre-reinforced plastics. In this research project, the question will be asked as to whether a renewed material usage (“end-of-life recycling”) is technically feasible for WPC. 

 

The aim is to thereby provide answers to the following questions:

  • How do the characteristics of WPC change after a period of use?
  • What can WPC be used for at the end of their period of use? Is a further, proportionate usage in new products (decking boards, co-extruded sections, particle boards) technically feasible?
  • How can WPC compositions and process parameters be adapted for proportionate usage of used WPC in new products and processes?
  • Can near-infrared (NIR) technology be used for the recognition of WPC?

Funding:

Industrial co-operative research association "Otto von Guericke" e.V. (IGF project no. 17411N) via the International Association for Technical Issues Related to Wood (iVTH) e.V.

Some members of the project support committee:

Ametek, Gewotech, Kosche Profilummantelung, Möller GmbH & Co. KG, Natur-in-Form GmbH, Ngr – Next Generation Recyclingmaschinen, Werzalit GmbH & Co. KG, Inoutic / Deceuninck GmbH, Verband der Deutschen Holzwerkstoffindustrie (VHI), Bundesverband der Altholzaufbereiter und –verwerter (BAV), Süddeutsches Kunststoff-Zentrum (SKZ).