In an ambitious drive to reach zero manufacturing waste in its North American facilities, Freudenberg North America’s 16 companies will increasingly pursue industrial processes that focus on recycled product content, plant recycling, lower water and energy consumption and increased use of sustainable materials over the next decade.
The companies were challenged to reach this objective by parent corporation, Freudenberg and Co., during a recent internal Global Innovation Forum on raw materials and innovation. The two-day event, annually conducted and simultaneously video-cast from locations in Germany, Brazil, the US, China and Japan, allowed Freudenberg’s global contingent of scientists, chemists and other technical specialists to review green projects, share best practices and participate in critical discussions about ongoing environmental issues.
The impact that global megatrends such as population growth, global warming and an increasing scarcity of resources is having on Freudenberg’s business and innovations—and how the corporation will respond—was central to the Global Innovation Forum.
“In the past, we have successfully issued challenges to our manufacturing facilities to achieve zero defects and zero accidents,” says Martin Stark, a member of the Freudenberg and Co. Management Board. “We are now issuing a challenge to achieve zero manufacturing waste. The trends driving our business today mandate this kind of response if we are to maintain long-term growth and profitability.”
Freudenberg's nonwovens-related business units are leading the way in these efforts by already using significant amounts of post consumer (PCR) and post industrial recycled plastic in its manufacturing already.
Freudenberg Nonwovens uses recycled materials to produce Lutradur ECO, a polyester industrial backing used in building and construction substrates, landscaping materials and wallpaper and carpet backings. The company produces the material using a proprietary, closed-loop manufacturing process in plants that reuse all of their material scrap. Commercial use of Lutradur ECO is rapidly rising as contractors seek new ways to improve the sustainability of their own building and construction designs.
Meanwhile, Freudenberg Texbond, based in Macon, GA, recycles more than one million plastic drink bottles a day in production of its nonwovens roofing membrane and building materials, and Freudenberg Filtration Technologies, in Hopkinsville, KY, uses 100% post consumer recycled plastic to create the material used in its high-quality commercial and industrial Viledon® air and liquid filtration systems. The company’s Viledon Hydrotexx ECO is green filtration media made from PCR polyester and offers consumers in the pool and spa market a green water filter alternative.