Closing the loop

schedule2 minutes

Transforming Mattress Recycling: Closing the Loop with Auping, Niaga®, Wellman International, and TWE

In Europe 30 million mattress a year are discarded. Most mattresses are hard to recycle because of the way the materials are used. They end up in incinerators. resulting in substantial CO2 emissions. In 2018 Auping and Niaga launched the world’s first circular mattress. A mattress designed so the valuable materials can be infinitely reused to make new mattresses.

For a mattress to be truly circular, it needs to be made with the right materials and reversible connections. Also, there needs to be a way to return a mattress at end of use, so that the materials that a mattress is made of can be reused or recycled. To put in place such a return and recycle infrastructure calls for close collaboration between all partners in the supply chain.

Now, Niaga®, Royal Auping, Indorama Ventures at their Irish recycled polyester fiber production site Wellman International, and German non-woven solutions manufacturer TWE have joined forces and created such a unique return and recycle infrastructure for mattresses.

80% of Auping’s mattresses are designed and made for circularity.  They are made using only 2 clean and infinite materials: steel and polyester. This unique mattress concept is based on Niaga® technology and uses the unique Niaga® click-unclick adhesive. It means a mattress can be dismantled and fully recycled into a similar, high-quality mattress.

The scannable Niaga®-tag on these circular Auping mattresses tells users how to return their mattress at end of use. We call this closing the loop. Until now the infrastructure to close the loop and reuse or recycle materials locally was lacking. Now that we’ve closed the loop, when a mattress gets returned to Auping, the unique collaboration with Indorama Ventures’ Irish production site Wellman International and TWE ensures that mattress materials are recycled.

The polyester retrieved from returned mattresses is processed into recycled polyester fibre by Wellman International. This clean rPET fibre is then sent to TWE who uses it as raw material for making nonwovens.  These nonwovens can be used in new circular mattresses. By closing the loop in this way, increasingly mattresses can be produced using recycled content. It also ensures that mattresses designed for circularity do not end up as waste.

After its end-of-life a mattress is disassembled by reheating the Niaga® click-unclick adhesive, allowing to separate the various components into pure material streams.

At Indorama Ventures’ manufacturing site Wellman International, the post-consumer textile is converted back into recycled PET pellets, we call this repalletizing. These rPET pellets are then spun into recycled Polyester Staple Fibres (rPSF).

TWE Group receives from Wellman International the recycled staple fibres and converts them into nonwovens. These nonwovens are then sent back to Royal Auping, who uses the nonwovens in their process to make new mattresses.

This groundbreaking collaboration points towards a circular future in which materials retain their value and can be used again and again.

Closing the loop - Auping