New recycling approach for old carpeting

Figure:. Thermobonding with 200 µm film, left, only thermobonding with very strongly fused dead pole (A), individual areas with better adhesion at the dead pole;(C), slight adhesion with air pockets (B) Image: TFI

In Germany alone, around 400,000 t of old carpets are incinerated every year even though they contain valuable plastic fibres such as PA6 and PA6.6 which could be usefully recycled. In order to tackle this problem, IKV and the Aachen Textiles and Flooring Institute (TFI) have together launched a research project that aims to draw up an innovative, resource-saving recycling technique for floorcoverings.

As part of the project, TFI and IKV are developing a recyclable textile floorcovering with a high percentage of recycled PA6 (rPA6), namely up to 90 % by weight. Use is made of an innovative plastic film back-coating in order to make the high recycling content possible.

Preliminary investigations by the two research institutes have shown that, through the combination of film extrusion and the incorporation of pile nubs using the thermobonding technology, a textile floorcovering of PA6 can be produced that is recyclable. The challenge is to develop a process that makes it possible to produce a high-grade flat film from old carpets that have a high level of contamination.

Through the creation of an efficient recycling loop for valuable engineering plastics, not only is the impact on the environment reduced, but a valuable contribution is also made to the sustainable use of resources.