Public consultation on Energy Efficiency Directive review: The polyurethane industry puts its vision forward

Why does the European Commission carry out public consultations? Because engaging with external stakeholders is an essential part of the democratic process. For this reason, before presenting new legislative or regulatory proposals, the Commission seeks the position of industry, civil society organisations or anyone who has a position in order to get feedback on its intentions and plans.

With energy efficiency topping the agenda at EU level, and in light of the review the Energy Efficiency Directive – due to be published in the autumn of 2016 – the Commission called on stakeholders to submit their positions by 29 January. Did you submit yours?

At ISOPA, we look forward to the Commission’s proposal and hope industry’s comments are being taken on board. After all, polyurethanes will play an important role in achieving energy efficiency objectives in a number of key sectors such as transport, construction, and appliances.

The review of Energy Efficiency Directive has indeed important implications for our industry and value chain:

  • First, with buildings accounting for 40 per cent of energy use in Europe, it will be key to develop new solutions for consumers to boost their energy savings. Harnessing energy efficiency in buildings is a huge opportunity for Europe. It can incentivise the development of innovative technologies, create jobs, and enable all consumers (particularly vulnerable ones) to save money. However, this initiative has to be set in a cost-effective framework. For example, emphasis ought to be put on deep renovation delivering long-term results. Yet, as this is not financially possible for everybody, the Commission and Member States should develop supporting financial schemes. Meanwhile, performance standards and labelling have to be very clear, yet adapted to different national needs; some countries are more advanced than others in their efficiency requirements and EU legislation should not hamper efforts to create a level playing field.
  • Furthermore, energy intensive industries, such as the producers of diisocyanates, the building blocks of polyurethane, will be impacted from the review of energy efficiency legislation. With the Commission emphasising the importance of restoring competitiveness and creating new jobs in Europe it is critical policy makers take into account the socio-economic impact of regulation on the European chemical industry, in particular with regards to costly regulatory overlaps. The chemical industry is indeed already subject to the European Emissions Trading System (ETS); a scheme that secures the most energy efficient choices are made. Therefore, should an energy cap be imposed on energy intensive sectors such as chemicals, European industry would face an unprecedented competitive challenge. Europe would become the only region in the world where manufacturing growth would be limited. Instead of setting targets to be met at any cost, the European Union should provide more precise regulatory and financial incentives for innovation. At European level, as at global level, it’s flexibility and innovation that will bring future solutions.

Once all contributions are processed, the Commission will publish a report presenting its analysis of the responses. Hopefully the report will feed the Commission’s review which is expected to come out this autumn.

Did you participate and want to share your views on the future of EU energy efficiency policy? Connect with us on Twitter!

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The Benefits and history of polyurethane flexible foam

From your car seats, to your mattress and your running shoes, polyurethane flexible foam can be found in more places than you think. Without it, it is likely your life would be much less comfortable. But how did it all start and what’s the outlook for the years to come? Michel Baumgartner, Secretary General of the European association of flexible polyurethane foam blocks manufacturers (EUROPUR) explains.

Let’s start from the beginning, when and how was flexible foam first created?

Polyurethane was first made in Leverkusen (Germany) as early as 1937. However, the real history of flexible foam started in 1954 with the first commercial production in Europe and soon thereafter in the United States. From then on, the success was unstoppable. In just a few years flexible polyurethane foam became the material of choice for furniture upholstery and car seats; it also gained a very significant share in the mattresses market. Over time flexible polyurethane foam conquered new markets due to its unique properties; today, it can found in many different applications, from kitchen sponges to clothing, packaging, filters, or sound insulation, just to name a few. Polyurethane foam has become crucial to our daily comfort, without us ever hardly noticing it.

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What is the comparative advantage of polyurethane flexible foam versus its competitors?

Polyurethane foam is versatile, lightweight, cost-efficient, and durable. The different families of polyurethane foam that have been developed over time allow producers to develop a virtually endless range of foam types each with specific properties to serve today’s multiple applications foams. No other material used for comfort applications can cover the same broad range of applications. It maintains its properties so well in time that products made out of polyurethane can last for many years.

In addition, flexible foam has environmental benefits. Being composed mostly of air, foam is extremely lightweight and therefore helps in emission reduction in transport applications.

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How do you see the market develop in coming months and years?

Just to put things into perspective: we produce around 900,000 tonnes of flexible foam annually in the EU. If you put that in volume, it is equivalent to 9 times the Great Pyramid of Giza, every year. The polyurethane foam market in Europe has a dominant market share in the main applications it is used in (bedding, furniture and automotive). Generally, it evolves in line with the growth rate observed in the economy; however, in the mattresses market polyurethane foam keeps gaining in market share with competing products.

But foam manufacturers are not resting on their laurels. They are constantly developing new products harnessing the foam’s unique properties. So, as European growth is slowly picking up, we are confident that the future will remain bright for our market.

As the discussion on sustainability is more pertinent than ever, what initiatives has the industry taken to improve the product’s life cycle sustainability overtime?

Industry – and thereby I mean the entire supply chain, including raw materials producers – has worked hard to reduce its carbon footprint. In the past 10 years CO2 emissions for the production of flexible PU foam were reduced by 24%, as shown in a study EUROPUR released this year.

In addition, we are one of the few industries with virtually no production waste. Trim (or waste foam from cutting operations) is re-used to produce new products, such as carpet underlay or bonded foam.

Looking ahead, it is all about continuous improvement. Our attention is now turning to end-of-life polyurethane foam, coming back in end-of-life mattresses, furniture or other products. Such foam is currently mostly sent to waste-to-energy plants where its energy content is recuperated in the form or heat or electricity. That is certainly good, but as an industry, we also want to evaluate other options for end-of-life foam, from re-use to recycling. It is not always easy because it requires finding options that are technically feasible on an industrial scale, economically viable and accepted by consumers.

A number of the challenges we have to overcome are outlined in a contribution we sent to the public consultation on a circular economy organised by the European Commission earlier this year. But with a positive attitude and the many talents we have in our industry, we will surely be able to progress on many fronts in the years to come.

Should you have more questions on our products’ environmental footprint, don’t hesitate to email us and engage with us on Twitter.

 

 

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COP 21 – The polyurethane industry is on board!

COP21, the most anticipated event of the year, has now started. While countries come to the negotiating table to find a global agreement, we feel it is our duty to remind our political leadership of the importance of the moment and its implications for European industry.

Green is the warmest colour

Before climate change was on everyone’s mind, our technology was already contributing to reducing energy consumption in a huge range of sectors that impact all aspects of our daily life. From buildings to transportation and refrigeration, polyurethane (PU) materials enhance the energy efficiency of goods and infrastructures and help save our planet’s natural resources.

And this is only the beginning! Our member companies and their customers constantly innovate and improve the PU’s performance and recyclability in order for users to be 100% sure that by using polyurethane they contribute to preserving the Earth’s resources.

In addition, the industry has profoundly changed itself and taken immense strides over the past 20 years to go beyond existing climate and energy rules. Through self-regulation and impeccable compliance to European and national rules, we managed to cut down on our emissions at all stages of the manufacturing process and become more energy efficient.

We have also been thought leaders in environmental industrial sustainability, introducing, in 1995, Life Cycle Thinking in our operations. Our objective has always been to better understand the environmental impact of our industry and products, so that we take most informed decisions when environmental protection is needed.

Be ambitious, be smart and make Europe competitive again!

As leaders come together in Paris, the chemical industry reminds them of the invisible yet essential role chemistry plays in developing the most innovative solutions without which climate targets could not be met. Despite what one may think, industry and the environment can go hand in hand.

Industrial competitiveness is therefore key to meet European and global environmental objectives. European policy makers in Paris must ensure that energy-intensive industries are not exposed to an investment leakage that would lead to further deindustrialisation on our continent.

ISOPA, over the years, has spoken up in favour of smart regulation that accounts for the challenges that doing business in Europe implies. Today more than ever, as Europe struggles to recover from the economic downturn, decoupling climate and economic development policies could put industry at risk in Europe. The road to decarbonisation would take us nowhere without the chemical industry.

So, in Paris, be ambitious, be “smart” and make Europe competitive again.

Should you have questions on our products’ environmental footprint or our position on policy issues beyond climate change, don’t hesitate to email us and engage with us on Twitter.

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3 Questions to Els Van Eetvelde, Chair of ISOPA’s One Step Ahead group: “Spreading good practices for product stewardship”

17 years ago, ISOPA created the One Step Ahead programme in order to promote the safe handling of chemicals by all members of the value chain in Africa and the Middle East. Since then, much progress has been accomplished. Much more still needs to be done though and this is why ISOPA seizes all opportunities to be proactive.

Today, Els Van Eetvelde, Chair of ISOPA’s One Step Ahead group takes us on a journey to the past and shares her vision for the Programme’s future.

What was the thinking behind launching the “One Step Ahead” program?

Product stewardship is of vital importance for ISOPA. By elevating safety standards in the industry, we can ensure the highest quality of polyurethane products throughout the value chain while reducing the potential impact on human health and the environment.

The polyurethane market has become global, thus, product stewardship practices cannot be limited to Europe. For example, the manufacturing of polyurethane products has been a dynamic sector of the African and Middle East economies, generating wealth and employment. It was therefore a logic step for ISOPA to develop a dedicated Product Stewardship program for these two regions.

One Step Ahead was launched in 1998 to increase the safety awareness and standards for the use of di-isocyanates in Africa and Middle East. The first workshop in Kenya was so successful that many others followed. Nowadays, workshops are planned on regular basis and the information shared with the audience is adapted to local needs.

What are the main learnings for ISOPA?

Feedback provided by participants to the One Step Ahead workshops over the past two years, has shown that on average 65% of participants know ISOPA and its activities before they join the event. A few lessons could be drawn from that:

  • Product Stewardship initiatives are beneficial for ISOPA’s global reputation.
  • Nonetheless, untapped opportunities remain and ISOPA should maintain its energy and continue to organise workshops to increase awareness on the safe use of diisocyanates.

As for ISOPA member companies it is important to acknowledge that:

  • Resources and energy invested in the “One Step Ahead” program have created impact for all members of the value chain.
  • Further support is essential to bring the Product Stewardship message to go from “gold” to “platinum”.

By aiming high, without compromises, ISOPA can make the difference and ensure that the building blocks of polyurethane are handled in the safest way.

Have workshops evolved since the program started? Which countries are you planning to focus on in 2016 and ahead?

The workshops’ agenda has evolved over the years to increase dialogue during the presentations in order to allow for more interaction. It is now made easier for everyone to learn from each other’s experiences.

In addition, the slide packs used during the workshops undergo a continuous process of improvement. The core messages on the safe transport, storage and use of diisocyanates and polyols have been consistent over the years. However, specific questions raised during the workshops and feedback received from participants have led to important fine-tuning.

A good example of improvement would be the introduction of an Arabic version of the “One Step Ahead” documents, in addition to the English and French versions. This allows polyurethane operators in Middle East and North Africa to receive the training in their mother tongue.

Looking to the future, the workgroup members have identified 5 sub-regions of interest. More specifically, two sub-regions were selected in the beginning of each year by all ISOPA member companies. The next training will take place in Accra, Ghana with more to come. Stay tuned!

Should you have questions on the “One Step Ahead” Programme, don’t hesitate to email us and engage with us on Twitter.

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Driver Carrier Day 2015: Engaging transport companies to increase safety

On 21-22 September 2015, BASF – with ISOPA’s support – organised the latest Carrier Day in Antwerp, Belgium. “What’s a ´Carrier Day´?” – you’ll rightfully ask, if you’re not familiar with the polyurethane industry jargon. Carrier Day is a workshop organised every two years by the diisocyanates and polyols industry in order to “nudge” transport operators to ensure outmost safety when handling chemical substances.

What makes Carrier Days useful?

Over the years, safe handling of chemical substances has improved tremendously. Nonetheless, according to Frederick Pieters, BASF’s Head of supply chain for isocyanates, ensuring the safety of unloading operations requires constant effort; this is due to fragmented rules and often a lack of communication between all actors in the value chain.

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This is the reason, as underlined by Kristine Dewaele, ISOPA’s Office Manager, why ISOPA has been working with its members and the value chain producers in order to:

  • Raise awareness and increase understanding of best practice in the handling of chemicals.
  • Develop awareness of the risks involved in the use of chemicals. For example, in case of an incident during unloading operations, the driver has to follow the instructions given by the unloading crew. He remains responsible for his own safety; however, he must comply with the safety rules on site.
  • Provide advice on first aid and managing spillages.

This year, BASF’s fire department provided an introductory presentation; it focused on instances when the chemical industry has to work with authorities in the context of an incident. The contribution was a showstopper – the audience was all ears, considering operators’ commitment to safety in the workplace and that all successful safety trainings will have benefits for compliant companies.

Aside from the series of presentations, transport operators who participated in the Carrier Day attended a live exercise simulating an emergency scenario. It was an excellent opportunity for operators to put the knowledge they acquired to the test and to manage extreme circumstances, similar to the ones they’d get in an emergency situation.

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What are the main learnings for ISOPA?

The Carrier Day re-confirmed that transporting chemicals is a specialist activity that requires a high level of responsibility. The carriers contracted by ISOPA’s member companies, are specialised in the transport of MDI and TDI and their drivers have followed a special training in the transport of these substances. However, the Carrier Days are attended by their managers and not the drivers themselves.

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What’s next?

In its upcoming editions, ISOPA would like to take Carrier Days a step forward.

The objective: Engaging directly with the drivers themselves, in addition to engaging with managers of transport operators. Learning from the drivers’ experience will make the Carrier Day even more relatable as it will enable interaction between managers and their drivers, as would be done in reality.

Drivers already receive a dedicated ISOPA training however working closely with their employers on safety issues would enable to bridge some potential communication gaps and ensure the highest level of safety.

Unanswered questions on ISOPA’s “Logistics” Programme? Don’t hesitate to email us and engage with us on Twitter.

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Driving European competitiveness: Polyurethane industry’s socio-economic contribution

Back to school in Brussels! Going into what appears to be a busy end of the year in terms of the regulatory agenda, discussions between business and EU regulators will focus on a very important issue: The future of the European industry.

Considering the industry accounts for about 15% of economic performance, its importance for the recovery of the European economy cannot be underestimated. Europe’s traditional manufacturing, which of course includes the chemical sector, is one of Europe’s key competitive advantages at global level. Europe is, after all, the world leader in the development of innovative high-quality products.

Industry aligns with regulators´ priorities for Europe’s good

As the Digital Economy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, described it, “the fourth industrial revolution […] will change all our industries, will change our economy and will change our lives.” In the polyurethane sector we fully align with the Commission’s vision: with 240,000 European   companies   involved in   the process   of   manufacturing, transforming and using polyurethane, of which 85% are SMEs, it is safe to say that our industry at all levels of the value chain plays its part in innovating and investing. This is the best way to prove Europe is still the leader in quality and that our customers deserve the best materials to meet their needs.

However, in order to fully seize the opportunities brought to us by technological innovation we need the support of the policy makers both at EU and national level. According to the European Commission, the modernisation of industry is at the core of some major initiatives such as the Circular Economy Package to be presented at the end of the year and the Internal Market Strategy to be presented in the fall.

European recovery should be based on cost-effective regulation

At ISOPA, we have been vocal supporters of EU initiatives. Nonetheless, as we pointed out in our response to the public consultation on the promotion of the circular economy in Europe, what is of paramount importance to us is that EU regulations are “fit-for-purpose.” A “one-size-fits-all” approach does not account for potential abatement costs sectors could face in implementing regulation and could hold some back in the development of innovative services or materials.

This is particularly true considering that using digital technologies could enable the industry to develop better products for its customers. This is a huge opportunity for European companies. If we manage to “ride this wave” this would lead to more jobs for Europeans and more competitive products on the global market.

The polyurethane industry contributes around €207 billion to the European economy each year: it is a clear ally of a job-rich recovery for the European economy. In turn, going into the “new school year” we are looking to bring the policymakers’ attention to what matters to us: jobs, innovation, and our commitment to sustainability.

Should you have questions on socio-economic impact of the polyurethane industry engage with us on Twitter and visit our website.

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Polyurethane industry’s contribution to sustainable development – 3 Questions to Shpresa Kotaji, Chair of the ISOPA Polyurethane Applications Cluster

Over the past 10 years, sustainable development has risen to the top of the political and regulatory agenda. Today more than ever, European policy-makers and industrial actors are working together to ensure European manufacturing remains both competitive and environmentally sustainable.

Product sustainability has become part of the polyurethane industry’s DNA. For years, Isopa and its members have driven innovation and elevated the promotion of sustainability throughout its products’ life cycle to one of its top priorities. Shpresa Kotaji, the Chair of the ISOPA Polyurethane Applications Cluster explains how the polyurethane industry made it.

How has ISOPA’s commitment to a sustainable value chain evolved over time?

For ISOPA, promoting sustainability extends beyond the responsibility of every single one of its members to the industry as a whole. Since its creation in 1987, ISOPA has worked closely both with upstream and downstream associations to develop programmes to ensure the sustainability of polyurethane products from their production to their end-of-life. For example, ISOPA Product Stewardship programmes bring all industrial stakeholders together and work towards developing industry-wide best practices. This is achieved through continuous interaction and training. As our programmes grew in size, we diversified the content in order to address specific needs such as the safety of carriers. This is the force that will be driving our work forward.

More specifically, there are three areas we are particularly proud of:

  • Since the 1990s, ISOPA and downstream associations worked to advance the recycling and recovery options for polyurethanes through a series of programmes and initiatives, as well as publications of factsheets and specific reports. Our hard work has been recognised and now ISOPA is considered as a key sectorial player in this field, participating in events, stakeholder consultations or research projects.
  • 1993 was also a milestone for ISOPA: this is when the association started working on industrial eco-profiles. Ever since then ISOPA’s data library has been constantly updated. More recently, we have also been working to test EU product environmental footprint methodologies and have participated in EU standardisation programmes, such as the one on Sustainable Construction.
  • Last but not least, another aspect of ISOPA’s activities that has evolved is the participation in the development of eco-labelling. Since the 1990s ISOPA has been an active partner to European institutions and has provided technical and scientific information to ensure the most relevant criteria are developed; for us, this is the only way to ensure high performance and high consumer satisfaction.

What are the main challenges for the industry to promote sustainable practice while maintaining its competitive edge towards its international competitors?

For decades, the European chemical sector, including ISOPA member companies, has gone through tremendous efforts to reduce its energy and resource use and its emissions. Industrial innovation on resource efficiency made great strides at all stages of production.

Taking into account ambitious European climate and energy targets, the global market and the quality of European industrial products, the main challenge going forward will be to ensure that chemical manufacturing in Europe maintains the highest level of quality. Quality is the cornerstone of European excellence.

However, this does not mean that manufacturing outside Europe should be left unregulated. High product stewardship standards should be required from all players, both within and outside of the EU. Nonetheless, regulation should be smart and flexible, adjusting to the realities of the market in order to reward quality.

In addition, to maintain its global edge, the EU must ensure its energy market is efficient and consolidated. Energy efficiency standards combined with other methods to strengthen Europe’s energy security will lower energy prices both for energy-intensive companies and for consumers. This can be achieved by creating the framework to support innovative materials, such as polyurethanes which are used in transport and buildings, which together account for 60% Europe’s energy use.

For example, special focus should be given on thermal renovation of the building stock – not only will it create jobs locally, thus boosting the economy but it will also ensure consumers pay a lighter energy bill while using sustainable material produced in the EU.

What are the applications of polyurethane that will have a critical impact on sustainability and comfort in the years to come?

Looking ahead, as our society is aiming at reducing the use of resources; polyurethane will be the material of choice for a significant number of sectors that have been actively engaging to increase their energy efficiency.

From improving the energy saving potential of our building stock, to developing more efficient appliances polyurethane is the material that can enable manufacturers to be ambitious. This is particularly the case of automotive and rail producers who want to drive the boundaries of innovation yet remaining efficient.

As for those in quest of comfort, polyurethane flexible foam will continue to dominate the market for mattresses and furniture; its durability and quality will become increasingly important to an aging population. Not to mention that polyurethane is becoming an increasingly fashionable material for all the sustainable fashionistas out there! “The future starts today, not tomorrow” – and it’s made of polyurethane.

Should you have questions on the sustainability of polyurethane materials engage with us on Twitter and visit our website.

 

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The power of a summer siesta thanks to Polyurethane flexible foam

Siesta: /sɪˈɛstə/ An afternoon rest or nap, especially one taken during the hottest hours of the day in a hot climate

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All you’ve been dreaming about all winter is an after-lunch siesta, enjoying the fresh sea breeze? The time has come! Sit back on your polyurethane couch or lie on your polyurethane mattress and fully enjoy the benefits winding down.

Why is a summer siesta beneficial?

Undeniably sleep is beneficial for us. But specifically why is it worth spending that extra hour on our comfortable bed? First, one study on working women as well a review of literature on sleep both concluded that lack of sleep could affect one’s mood and lead to increased stress during the day. The opposite of what we want when we’re on holidays, wouldn’t you say?

Not to mention that sleep is key to perform better at summer sports that require strength and attention, such as surfing or diving. More specifically, according to a study on college athletes demonstrated a link between lack of sleep and a diminished ability to process information to make swift decisions.

As for the ones among us who see the summer as the best time to shed that extra winter weight – take a rest. As experts have reiterated on multiple occasions, sleeping hours amount for the time when our body heals any injuries, activates its metabolism and regenerates its tissues. Off to bed we go then!

In addition, a Clinical and Experimental Dermatology study  concluded that ultraviolet light exposure would have less impact on people who sleep between 7 and 9 hours per night. Who knew it was a good addition to our sunscreen.

Last but not least, enjoying an afternoon nap can also be beneficial for our fall performance at the office. Did you know that sleep-deprived people lose out on their short-term memory? Hence, if you’re planning to head south, don’t feel guilty to follow the locals’ lifestyle. You’ll reap the rewards in the fall.

How polyurethane can optimise your sleep

As we’ve hinted above, the essential component to a relaxed sleep is polyurethane. Polyurethane flexible foam is mattress manufacturers’ material of choice for its inimitable qualities – comfort, durability and support.

As for customers, they show preference to furniture made from polyurethane as its cellular structure, allows good ventilation and heat transfer. Polyurethane foams adapt to and support the body’s contours. Memory foam is a popular form of polyurethane, which adapts to the shape of a person’s body, ensuring restful sleep. That’s exactly what one is looking for when enjoying the benefits of a summer siesta.

Should you want additional information on the applications of polyurethanes engage with us on Twitter and visit our website! And above all, enjoy your summer!

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Efficient appliances: Fighting climate change starts at home

Have you ever thought of the impact of your households appliances on your monthly energy budget and on the environment? Probably not as often as you should. The European Union, however, in an effort to fight climate change and ensure lower energy bills for consumers, has put appliances at the centre of its climate and energy policy.

Energy efficiency & Consumer empowerment

Over the past months, discussions over industrial innovation and its impact on Europe’s energy policy have intensified.

The Luxembourgish Presidency of the European Union, which will last from July to December 2015, reiterated the importance of promoting innovative technologies as they align both with the priorities on European competitiveness and on the recalibration of the European climate and energy policy. That includes the development of more energy-efficient household appliances.

The will to promote energy efficiency through innovation in order to benefit consumers was also reflected in the Energy Council conclusions on the implementation of the Energy Union adopted on June 8, 2015. The conclusions clearly call for investment and promotion of energy efficiency and innovative, low-carbon technologies which would increase security of supply for European consumers. On a regulatory level, the conclusions underline the importance of implementing existing energy efficiency legislation combined with stakeholder engagement in its review process.

Is the EU introducing new rules for appliances?

No, not really. Rather, it is reviewing existing ones. More specifically the European Commission, which is responsible for developing regulations, intends to review the Directives on Eco-design and Energy labelling in 2016 at the latest.

The EU-wide rules aim to ensure the decrease of CO2 emissions and life cycle cost of appliances for the consumers.

In addition, the European Commission’s Eco-design Working Plan for 2015-2017 is still being discussed and will likely be published in the fall. In turn, new rules for additional products are expected to be presented in 2016.

As a member of the Eco-Design Consultation Forum which was set up by the Commission, ISOPA not only has been closely following the regulation’s implementation but also emphasized the importance of innovation in materials in order to boost energy efficiency and lower CO2 emissions at consumer level.

How about the Parliament? Does it support energy efficient appliances?

Members of the European Parliament have been particularly vocal about the impact energy efficiency can have on mitigating the impact of climate change. At Parliament level however, energy efficiency is only addressed through the lens of the implementation of the Energy Union.

Nonetheless, there has been broad consensus that cost-effective regulation would enable Europe to boost its industrial competitiveness at global level. This is particularly true for efficient appliances we use every day at home. For this reason the review of the energy efficiency framework for products (Energy Labelling and Eco-design Directives) has been scheduled for 7 July 2015, in Strasbourg.

How are polyurethanes actually contributing to a better European Energy system?

Did you know polyurethane rigid foams are excellent insulators while being light and needing little space? For example, refrigerators and water kettles insulated with polyurethane foam leach minimal energy during their use, drastically reducing energy demand. Not to mention that at manufacturing level, the use of polyurethane, thanks to its inherent adherence and strength allows to reduce the thickness of the outer liners, further reducing resource depletion.

All in all, appliances insulated with polyurethane are designed to use less energy meaning that stricter energy standards can be met and the benefits passed onto the consumer. In addition, going forward, ISOPA members keep on focusing research and development to optimise the performance and designs of appliances. Great news for everyone wouldn’t you say?

Should you want additional information on the applications of polyurethanes engage with us on Twitter and visit our website!

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Circular Economy Roadmap: Where will it take us?

In May 2015, the European Commission published its awaited Circular Economy Roadmap. The roadmap is key in the circular economy discussions as it presents European authorities’ main priorities and strategy on resource efficiency. Beyond the actual environmental issues it aims at tackling, the concept of circular economy encompasses a number of other dimensions which can have crucial socio-economic impacts on European citizens and affect Europe’s competitiveness.

Circular Economy strategy: the piece of a broader puzzle

In July 2014, the former European Commission adopted a waste legislative proposal that was notably planning to create “an enabling framework for the circular economy” in Europe and was meant to improve legislative and non-legislative policy instruments to promote the circular economy, green employment, green action plan for SMEs sustainable buildings and legislative proposals on waste.

Yet, when it took office last November, the new European Commission decided to withdraw the circular economy package for its lack of ‘circularity’. The package was too much focused on waste. Following this decision, the Commission immediately began discussing new ambitions.

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Commissioner Vella at the European Parliament

More insight on the roadmap

The newly published roadmap highlights the Commission’s understanding of the course of action to achieve a circular economy in Europe.

One of the main points emphasized by the European executive branch is that the circular economy requires action at all stages of the life cycle of products. Consequently all aspects of products’ manufacturing, distribution, consumption and waste management require action and involvement from both public and private stakeholders to improve their environmental and economic sustainability.

Thus, the aim of the circular economy strategy is to tackle any barriers that could impede the growth of existing and new markets and business models, by ensuring a comprehensive and coherent approach that “fully takes into account interactions and interdependence across the whole value chain, rather than focusing exclusively on one part of the economic cycle”. According to the roadmap, such initiatives would also create an added value to for Europe and help create jobs, improve consumers’ experience, and reduce products’ environmental impacts.

For the industry this is a crucial point and what is even more positive is that its contribution has been emphasized in the consultation on the Circular Economy launched by the European Commission on 28 May 2015.

Where does ISOPA fit into discussions on the circular economy?

As a representative of the polyurethane industry, ISOPA is committed to ensuring the waste management and resource efficiency of products from diisocyanates and polyols can benefit both the environment and European society and economy.

We have illustrated our commitment to such goals by investing in research and innovation to improve polyurethanes’ waste management. Thanks to this ongoing applications and implication, more than 250,000 tonnes of polyurethane are recycled and recovered every year – a number which we are happy to see increasing on a daily basis.

Closer to their home, European citizens can witness how environmentally responsible the Polyurethane industry is. Although it is not necessarily obvious – and practically visible – polyurethanes used in everyday applications, such as refrigerators, freezers and other household appliances, contribute to saving energy and resources. And one should not forget the contribution to our industry in food waste prevention!

Ultimately, polyurethanes help saving natural resources and your money! It is worth investing in quality materials, wouldn’t you say?

All in all, whatever direction the European Union or national authorities will take on circular economy and waste management, the Polyurethane industry will always commit to improving its standards and pushing its ambitions forward. .

For more information, please read:

Polyurethanes and the circular economy: we make it happen

Saving resources in Europe: What future for the circular economy model?

Do you have an opinion on the circular economy package and/or what it should look like? Don’t hesitate to engage with us on Twitter and visit our website!

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