Recyclable tarps with TPU coating

Recyclable tarps with TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) coating are beneficial to the environment because they offer a number of environmental advantages over traditional tarps.

Firstly, as they are made from recycled materials, they help to conserve natural resources and reduce waste. Additionally, TPU is a type of plastic that can be more easily recycled than other types of plastics, which means that these tarps can have a longer lifespan and be repurposed multiple times.

Secondly, TPU is a type of plastic that is considered to be more environmentally friendly than other types. TPU is a thermoplastic elastomer, which means that it can be melted and reshaped multiple times without losing its properties. This reduces the need for disposal and also reduce the use of virgin materials.

Thirdly, TPU coating provides high resistance to UV rays, chemicals, and abrasion, which means that it can last longer, reducing the need for replacement.

Lastly, TPU coating provides high resistance to water, which means it can be used in outdoor environments and help to protect the tarp from weathering, reducing the need for replacement.

Overall, recyclable tarps with TPU coating are a more sustainable and eco-friendly option that can help to conserve natural resources and reduce waste, while providing high resistance to different types of weather conditions.

Research project with various industry partners – FREITAG develops recyclable truck tarpaulin

Making bags and accessories from used materials, especially truck tarpaulin – that’s FREITAG’s credo. Now the Swiss manufacturer is planning the next major milestone: together with various industry partners, the company is developing a truck tarpaulin that can be reprocessed as often as desired into new products, even after a long life as a FREITAG bag. As if that were not enough, it is to become part of a new endless cycle that creates a significantly lower footprint than the previous disposal of bags at the end of their useful life.

In this application, the demands on the materials are very high: they must be fully recyclable, meaning that they can not only be recycled but also used again and again in new products. When used as truck tarpaulins, the first task is to withstand the harsh conditions of European transit routes. To do this, the tarpaulin must be water- and dirt-repellent. It will then be used in high-quality, durable FREITAG bags, and finally it will be possible to break it down again into its components, which will then serve as the basis for new products.

Covestro and Heytex project is well advanced

Together with Covestro, an experienced partner fully focused on the circular economy, Heytex is developing a solution based on thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which is applied as a coating to a robust polyester fabric. TPU is available over a wide hardness range from 60 Shore A to 80 Shore D and can be processed using many different processes. The premium plastic is the material of choice when mechanical requirements are high, but flexibility and good abrasion resistance are also desired.

TPU has been mechanically recycled for decades. In this project, the cycle is to be closed without downcycling with chemical recycling, which is another reason why the plastic was identified as a material in addition to its known advantages. In the Cradle2Cradle analysis, the Desmopan® 6783A DPS045 grade even passed the demanding requirements for plastics for calendering. The joint project with Heytex is already well advanced, and the TPU has now passed the health safety test.

The partners are currently working on the material separation between the fabric and the coating, which is not expected to be possible for a few years. Therefore, the team is working in parallel on a completely new, revolutionary tarpaulin structure that could overcome this challenge.

Something that was only a big idea a short time ago has already been mounted on a small truck. So now, the first two prototypes of a circular tarp are out on the road doing their first test run.

One of the prototypes is made of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) with a fabric made of PES (polyester). The TPU coating material has already been tested by EPEA’s recycling experts and has passed the material health test.

Since it may be several years before compounds of PES and TPU can be recycled at a high level, the project team is working in parallel on a completely new, revolutionary tarpaulin structure that could easily bypass this hurdle.

“As a chemical company, our materials form the basis of thousands of products and we see it as our duty to accelerate the path to a circular economy. That’s why it was immediately clear to us that we wanted to be involved in such an interesting cooperation project as FREITAG’s from the very beginning,” says Covestro’s Mark Scheller, the main driver of this sub-project together with tarpaulin producer Heytex.

In December 2022, a prototype of the black TPU/PES tarpaulin was mounted on a truck; it has since completed its first road test.

Source: press release Covestro, June 2022