Flexible polyurethane foam (‘PU foam’) is a thermoset polymer. It is used in a very wide range of durable applications, notably in mattresses, upholstered furniture and in vehicles. As an example, nearly 90% of mattresses produced in the EU contain PU foam (between 2 and 15 kg per unit) and over 90% of furniture upholstery is made of PU foam.
The end-of-life (Eol) stage is somewhat more challenging due to the specificity of the material. The use of Eol PU foam for the production of bonded foam products is only possible in a limited number of cases for practical reasons. This means that other Eol solution have to be explored, taking into account the fact that, contrary to most plastics, which are thermoplastics, PU foam decomposes rather than melts at elevated temperature.