Recycling Composites for a Sustainable Future

Composites are continually gaining traction with multiple industries as research and development prove that these structures are an effective solution to replace inefficient materials. These composite structures can be easily formulated to meet any application requirements or specifications. As the market continues to demand materials that make less of an impact on the environment, manufacturers are researching methods to recycle composites to extend the material’s service life. 

Composites such as carbon fiber require an abundance of energy to produce a high-quality, durable finished product. This is one of the major influences as to why the development of composite recycling methods is crucial to the future of composites as well as our very own. 

Composites vs. Metals

Engineers and manufacturers turn to composites for performance advantages that metals such as steel and aluminum cannot provide. Composites have proven to be a viable option for manufacturers who require materials that reduce weight, increase strength, and improve overall durability. Composites can be costly, and there is not a definitive way to recycle these structures at the moment. Steel and aluminum continue to combat the demand for composites because suppliers have an extensive history of reducing production costs through recycling. However, there is a growing demand and interest for the recycling of composites in order to extend service life and reduce costs long term. Once recycling composites becomes as easy as production, we can expect to see more composites utilized in new applications.

Recycling End-of-Life (EOL) Products

Composites play an ever growing role in the development of end-of-life (EOL) products used in the manufacturing of automobiles, aircrafts, and energy harvesting methods such as wind turbines. Recycling composites from end-of-life products will result in the conservation of both resources and energy as well as provide companies from the aerospace, automotive, and energy harvesting industry will cost-effective, advanced composite materials. For example, the European Union (EU) requires that all end-of-life products must be 85% recyclable. Governments and consumers are demanding materials that make less of an impact on the environment and reduce costs.

The Future of Composite Recycling

As mentioned above, continual research and development is finding effective ways to recycle composites in order to extend the service life. Composites already offer superior value over traditional inefficient metals such as steel and aluminum, and finding an effective way to recycle composites will lead to these materials being used in unique applications. More research is needed to determine definitive ways to effectively recycle composites such as carbon fiber. These findings are crucial to the future of composites as well as the future of energy harvesting. “Green” energy production benefits from the use of application-specific composites.

Although there is not a clear, effective way to recycle composites as easily as steel and aluminum, the demand and interest for recycled composites is continuing to grow. Recycled composites will make a dramatic impact on the automotive, aerospace, and energy harvesting industries by reducing costs and extending composite service life. The infrastructure for recycling has been growing, and we can expect to see recycled composites being utilized in new applications.

Why Choose Composites One as Your Composite Supplier

At Composites One, we supply industries with the highest quality composite and high performance materials needed to manufacture products. We are the largest composite materials supplier in North America, and we are the industry leaders in determining the best type of composite material needed for your product as well as the most efficient methods of manufacturing. Contact our technical support team today for more information or fill out the contact form on our website.