Freudenberg to add recycled spunlaid capacity

The spunlaid division of Freudenberg Nonwovens will recycle 12.4 million two-litre plastic bottles this year and is starting up an idled spunlaid line to deal with demand for its Lutradur ECO.
This industrial backing is made from 100% post consumer recycled (PCR) plastic and being produced in company facilities that recycle scrap through a closed-loop manufacturing process. The result is a high-quality product range that is helping customers and Freudenberg Nonwovens achieve sustainable, “operations and design.
“We have invested years of time and resources to commercialise this product,” said John McNabb, North American general manager of Freudenberg Nonwovens. “In most applications, Lutradur ECO performs as well as our existing Lutradur product.”
Well1 The development of Lutradur ECO has evolved over the past 10 years as Freudenberg sought ways to help its construction, landscape and filtration customers achieve coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits for their use of sustainable products. Material and manufacturing engineers pushed to increase the amount of post industrial recycled (PIR) material used to produce Freudenberg’s traditional Lutradur material from 15 to 90%. When the company migrated to 100% PCR, Lutradur ECO material was born.
Lutradur and Lutradur ECO are used to produce building and construction substrates, landscaping and weed block materials, residential and commercial wallpaper and carpet backings, automotive floor mats and carpeting and specialized filtration devices.
Omnova Solutions, for example, uses Lutradur Eco in its Recore recycled wallcovering – a product widely used in Marriott hotels.
Lutradur ECO is also used in landscaping fabrics like Easy Gardener’s WeedBlock Recycled weed control product and in primary and secondary carpet backings for green carpet tiles produced by Mohawk Industries.
Lutradur ECO is produced at Freudenberg’s Durham plant in North Carolina. The process begins with the collection, bundling, shredding and cleaning of discarded beverage bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Freudenberg Nonwovens then uses proprietary spunlaid manufacturing technology to make rolls of nonwoven polyester fabric from the shredded plastic. Every square yard of 85-gram-weight Lutradur ECO fabric produced keeps six 16-fluid-ounce plastic bottles out of a landfill. In most applications, this product performs as well as backing material made from virgin plastic.
In addition, the Durham plant has implemented stringent guidelines to ensure that the nonwoven scrap produced in the manufacturing process is recycled back into the product, creating a closed loop industrial system that further reduces the operation’s environmental footprint. Freudenberg’s Durham facility recycles over 9,000 tons of waste polyester annually.
Demand for Lutradur ECO has been growing so steadily that Freudenberg Nonwovens will restart an idled spunbond line to increase production of the recycled fibre by the end of the year. The move will result in the creation of 16 new jobs at the Durham plant.
“Freudenberg is the only company in the world producing a 100% spunbond PCR commercial material,” said McNabb. “The technical expertise and resources that our people have invested in this material and in this manufacturing process are world-class.
“We are working with our customers and suppliers to maximise the use of recycled plastic bottles to manufacture this global product and in the process, helping our customers obtain more LEEDS credits than competitor materials with lower recycled content.”


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