Making bags and accessories from used materials, especially truck tarp – that is the credo of the FREITAG company. Now the Swiss manufacturer is planning the next big milestone: together with various industry partners – including Covestro – the company is developing a truck tarp 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 carbon 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 tarps, the first task is to withstand the harsh conditions of European transit routes. To do this, the tarp 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 chemically into its components, which will then serve as the basis for new products.
Covestro and Heytex project is well advanced
Covestro, as an experienced partner fully focused on the circular economy, plays an important role in one of FREITAG's several solution approaches. Together with tarp manufacturer Heytex, Covestro 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 Cradle2Cradle1 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 two 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. The team is therefore working in parallel on a completely new, revolutionary tarp structure that could overcome this challenge.
1 Cradle2Cradle ("cradle to cradle") is the term used to describe an approach to a consistent and continuous circular economy in which products are managed completely in a circle. The analysis was carried out by EPEA GmbH, which is supporting the project and advising FREITAG on circularity.