Home Sweet Home: Polyurethanes look after your comfort and health

A cozy place is the beginning of success

“I’d like mornings better if they started later,” were the words of a wise man. Wouldn’t you agree? Enjoying the warmth and comfort of your home helps you feel more rested, relaxed and ultimately happier. On a cold winter day a comfortable home helps you take the bull by the horns and have a productive day. . One of the crucial elements crucial to creating this comfortable environment is polyurethane, a key material without which many of your daily essentials would not feel and make you feel so good.

A great part of the furniture you have at home is made of polyurethane. For example, the sofa you sink in after a hard day’s work would feel the same without the polyurethane flexible foam. Thanks to polyurethane material’s inimitable properties your seating arrangements take the shape of your body and help improve your posture. Polyurethane flexible foam also ensures that your furniture remains comfortable for longer as it absorbs shocks better than other materials.

Sweet dreams with polyurethane flexible foam

When everyone speaks of the benefits of sleep, better make sure your bed is of the highest quality. Most mattresses contain polyurethane foam, also known as ‘memory foam’, as it adapts to the shape of a person’s body, ensuring restful sleep. Polyurethane mattresses are also considered top quality because their open cellular structure ensures for a good ventilation and heat transfer. With such comfortable bedding, no wonder we are so eager to get back to it every day!

Polyurethane: It is not because you cannot see that you cannot benefit from it

Polyurethane is also present in your home as carpet underlay. Thanks to polyurethane carpets stay comfortable for longer as polyurethane absorbs friction and helps reduce the wear and tear effect linked to daily use. Beyond the coziness it brings to house, polyurethane in carpets underlays is an excellent insulator. It helps limit noise pollution within your home thanks to its cushioning effect as well as save energy. Lower electricity bills thanks to polyurethane? Yes please!

Curious about more polyurethane applications, visit our website or connect with us Twitter to let us inform us on the impacts of polyurethanes on your health and rest.

sleep isopa

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Tackling Food Waste in Europe – ISOPA initiates the debate on the “day after” on 27 January

With over 100 million of tonnes of food being wasted annually in Europe and concerns over climate change and inequalities mounting both at a European and global level; it made sense for the European Union to dedicate 2014 to the fight against food waste.

Over the course of the year, policy makers and NGOs were mobilised and organised a series of initiatives on food waste. For example, the European Commission’s Communication Towards a circular economy: a zero waste programme for Europe, and the related legislative proposal to review recycling and other waste targets devised objectives for food waste reduction in the EU.

However, in its 2015 Work Programme the European Commission withdrew the Circular Economy package. That left many wondering – what’s going to happen to the fight against food waste? Was it all about talk and no action?

Industry commits to tackling food waste

In spite of the regulatory stall the industry remains committed to dynamically pursue its commitments to end food waste in Europe. For this reason ISOPA has decided to bring European Commission officials, Members of the European Parliament, and representatives from the private and non-profit sectors together to hold an in-depth discussion on the synergies that can be created to develop solutions to the problem.

On 27 January 2015, Frank Grunert, ISOPA’s President, will welcome waste experts from across sectors and organisations with the ambition to hold a constructive debate on how we can build up on existing initiatives and further enhance the ties between the private, public and non-profit sectors. After all, we’re all in on this battle!

Nicola Caputo, MEP, will deliver the keynote speech and will present his views and expectations for the months and years to come. . His presentation will be followed by remarks from Anne-Laure Gassin from the Directorate General for Health and Consumer of the European Commission who will focus on the way forward given the Circular Economy package’s withdrawal.

Polyurethanes in the cold food chain – an important part of the puzzle

Wondering about the industry’s role in tackling food waste? Aside from regulatory targets and behavioural change, developing adequate technologies to preserve food is one of the building blocks of a sustainable future.

Polyurethane is essential in the efficient functioning of the cold food chain. From storage to transport, polyurethane rigid foam in refrigerating appliances ensures both constant temperatures and energy efficiency. Did you know that thanks to polyurethane refrigerators today are 60% more efficient than 15 years ago?

Not to mention that the polyurethane industry is always looking ahead and has actively committed to innovation. Companies have invested in product stewardship programmes and have aimed to develop a life-cycle approach to their products.

Yet, the cold chain is one side of the solution. This is why ISOPA expects contributions from across sectors at the 27 January dinner debate. The more stakeholders take action the more sustainable our future will be!

Interested on the polyurethanes’ contribution to tackling food waste? Eager to share your opinions on the issue? Curious about the European Parliament’s and European Commission’s next steps? Follow us on Twitter and don’t hesitate to share your opinion! The voice of many will be the agent for change!

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The cold food chain, a key ally for development policy

New Year, new resolutions! As the world’s biggest donor of the official development assistance (ODA), the European Union decided for the first time to dedicate a year to a global theme, “Development”.  All the institutions have committed to organise events and promote initiatives under the umbrella of the Latvian and the Luxembourgish presidencies.

Having a look at the current global environment, wouldn’t you agree the “European Year for Development” appears as a natural continuation of 2014, the “European Year against Food Waste”?

Food waste no more, thanks to more reliable cold chains

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 1/3 of food supposed to reach our plates is wasted; either spoiled or lost. In developing countries, food waste not only exacerbates food insecurity but has also negative climate impacts, as huge amounts of water, agricultural products and waters have been used in vain, very often putting stress on the environment.

So what’s the answer to this growing problem? In many cases food waste is caused by problems in storage and transport due to lack of adequate cold chain facilities. Can you imagine how difficult it must be for a remote village in Mali to preserve the food aid it has received from the World Food Programme when there are no facilities to store them? Or for a small producer in India to store his harvest from the wet season and keep it until the dry season puts stress on his supplies without appropriate refrigeration facilities?

While donors often focus on food donations, the lack of cold chain facilities, subsequently leads to a loss of their funds in the event food is spoiled. In 2015, we cannot afford more hungry people and more wasted funds. This is the reason investing in the deployment of cold chain infrastructure is key.

In the spirit of efficiency, investing in innovative and sustainable materials could prove the optimal solution: materials that are lightweight, versatile, energy efficient and recyclable. Does that sound familiar?

The cold chain can save lives

Another aspect of the cold chain that demonstrates its importance in developing countries, and developed ones for that matter, is the importance of refrigeration for health. With the headlines being dominated with health emergencies across the globe it is important to reminder that transport and storage are the cornerstone for prevention.

Vaccines, HIV tests and blood supplies degrade if exposed to high or extremely low temperature. In turn, the health of millions of people can be put at risk if these products are not properly administered. In addition, medical supplies represent an important budget both for NGOs and international organization. Why not invest in improved and sustainable cold chain mechanisms in order to magnify health programmes’ impact? It would definitely save funds and most importantly, many lives.

Polyurethanes at the service of development

Investment in innovative technologies is the cornerstone of a continuous cold chain from production to distribution and consumption.

Polyurethane rigid foam is widely used to keep food fresh at every step in the transport and storage stages. Thanks to its unique physical and thermal properties combined with extreme versatility, Polyurethane foam is an essential component in the maintenance of the cold chain.

Not to mention that having the lowest thermal conductivity of any of the large volume insulators enables Polyurethane to achieve increased energy efficiency.

For Europe, commitment to a “Year for Development” means commitment to improve the health and nutrition of millions of people across the world. Raising awareness on the role and the importance of investing in the cold chain could prove a catalyst for more efficient aid distribution.

Especially in environments stressed by climate change finding sustainable solutions is the key to delivering a food and healthcare-secure world. Polyurethanes versatility and sustainable properties can be part of the equation! Find out why here and engage with us on Twitter to share your stories!

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Let’s slide! Skiing warmly and safely with PU

As the temperatures goes down and the snow starts to fall, many dream about their coming Christmas holidays, and  for some of us this means ski season!

On the slopes, you might not realize it but many of your ski essentials use polyurethanes. Thanks to its great versatility, it has helped to the development and improvement of numerous articles crucial to making your winter sport experiences safer and more enjoyable.

Polyurethane keeps you warm from head to toe

Your ski boots for instance, would never have been the same without polyurethane in them! Polyurethanes provide the degree of flexibility necessary to your comfort during your trips down the mountains. They also prevent you from catching a cold as their weather-resistant characteristics keep your feet dry and warm, no matter how covered in snow you are. Ski boots using polyurethanes are also more durable and resistant as they are highly abrasion and scratch resistant. You don’t have to worry about ruining their looks after the first time you wear them.

On that note, did you know that polyurethane is the material that makes possible the design of many of your casual and sport shoes? You can discover all about it on our website.

Surfin’ on polyurethane

Most importantly, your skis themselves need polyurethane! Numerous ski models use polyurethane as their core, as polyurethane foams make them be lighter without losing their strength and resistance.  Polyurethane is also present in many ski bindings, to ensure the strong grip of your feet on your skis.

Polyurethane also matters for the design of your skis and snowboards. Your new fashionable skis or board would not look so good without a thin layer of polyurethane coating covering them and ensuring that the design printed on your skies is protected from the weather and impacts. Without such protective film, they would probably turn yellow in no time.

All in all, Polyurethane is used because it helps your ski articles to be always more resistant, durable and fashionable. And that’s what makes your ski experience so much safer and better.Ski

Source: Wikimedia commons

So next time to speed down the slopes, remember that polyurethane is here to help you enjoy great ski holidays!

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Make the most of Christmas with Polyurethanes!

Do you know how much polyurethanes are an ally in helping you prepare a great Christmas celebration? Although the association between the two might not seem obvious at first, Christmas and polyurethanes truly are linked.

First things first, the dinner!

Polyurethanes can help to a less stressful Christmas meal preparation. Thanks to the Polyurethanes insulating foam of your fridge and refrigerating appliances, the cold food you buy days or even weeks in advance remains always fresh until the time finally comes to serve it. This can help spare you from the last-minute rush to the grocery store.

Of course, there would be no Christmas without the Christmas tree.

Christmas trees made from Polyurethanes can also help you in getting the Christmas spirit going. Artificial Christmas trees are indeed quite convenient since they can save you from the burdening task of cleaning up tree needles at the end of the season. In addition, they are sustainable alternatives since they are durable and can be reused many following years.

As for the decorations you will put on this tree, have you ever thought of making them yourselves? It is a fun activity for the young and less young, and quite a nice way to personalize your Christmas tree! If you would like to see how to make your very own polyurethane-coated ornaments which will last for the years to come, have a look at our previous blog post for inspiration.

On  your journey…

Many of us also need to drive away for Christmas, enjoying these festive times to catch up with families and friends. Then again, polyurethanes are an essential part of your journey! No matter how cold it is outside as long as your car is cozy and warm. Did you know that polyurethane is one of the materials that make your car trip more comfortable? Thanks to its insulating properties, it helps prevent external noise from covering the Christmas carols on the radio. It is also contained in your car seats to make them more comfortable throughout the journey.

… And on Christmas morning

Time to open the presents! Your new watch, your son’s new football ball, the latest fashionable clothes, your ski equipment for the coming snow trip… Many of these items would not be so good without polyurethanes making them more performant, nicer-looking, comfortable or resistant.

On the next day, polyurethane also helps you enjoy a comfortable rest. The mattress or the sofa on which you will be enjoying a well-deserved rest and some chocolates, are made so addictively comfortable thanks to the polyurethane foam composing them and giving them their flexibility and comfort.

Enjoy it all then! On behalf of the ISOPA team, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Noel

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Eco-innovation and competitiveness

On 1 and 2 December took place the 7th European Forum on Eco-innovation in Lyon, France. The Forum has been a great opportunity for stakeholders both from the public and private sector to come together and discuss the opportunities and challenges of a Europe transitioning to a green and sustainable economy.

The Forum came amid a crescendo of reactions following the European Commission President’s announcement of a €315 billion investment plan to kick-start Europe’s economy. Commenting on the plan Mr Juncker underlined that “if Europe invests more, Europe will be more prosperous and create more jobs – it’s as simple as that.” The objective is clear: innovation, jobs, growth. The polyurethanes industry, as a key actor of the European economy, supports these ambitions.

Is the European Commission committed to boosting economic growth through innovation?

Juncker’s political guidelines for the new Commission mentioned jobs and growth as keys to taking Europe out of the crisis. He made a symbolic gesture by making Jyrki Katainen Vice-President responsible for assessing all actions of the Commission on whether they “help create the conditions for a sustainable recovery in growth and job creation in Europe.”

In a globalised market, growth and jobs clearly go hand in hand with innovation in order for Europe to maintain its competitive edge. And this begins by looking for efficiencies and opportunities in what is already in the pipelines: in December, the Commission will present its 2015 Work programme, in which it is expected to withdraw a number of proposals currently under consideration… including possibly the proposal on waste and the circular economy! In view of this, it is yet unclear how committed the Commission will be to support eco-innovation in Europe.

What’s the green economy’s role in promoting job creation?

Talking about the 7th Environmental Action Programme at the European Environment Bureau conference “Europe at the Crossroads”, the new Environment Commissioner Karmenu Vella highlighted:

Vella quote

The Polyurethane industry is committed to innovation and competitiveness: it is one of the most forward-looking in terms of developing recycling and energy recovery solutions for its products, showing that green innovation and job creation can go hand in hand.

Polyurethanes use less than 0.1% of oil consumed worldwide and can save up to 100 times more. The polyurethane industry heavily invests in research to continuously improve the sustainability of its product and look for renewable and bio-based raw materials.

By making a better use of resources, polyurethane greatly contributes to reducing waste and increasing energy efficiency, not only throughout the value chains for various applications, but also throughout the whole European economy. Thanks to its wide range of applications, it helps support green product choices throughout Europe, and supports more than one million jobs across Europe.

If you would like to know more about how the polyurethane industry constantly innovates for a competitive Europe, have a look on our website.

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Building renovation in Europe: what’s next?

Last month in the European Parliament, the new Regional Policy Commissioner Corina Crețu confirmed that the Commission was committed to increase investment in energy efficiency in buildings. This is good news for Europe! Today, buildings consume 40% of Europe’s primary energy and create more than one third of greenhouse gas emissions. We therefore clearly need to reduce the amount of energy wasted by buildings, many of which are not properly insulated. Energy efficiency is Europe’s biggest energy resource but the question is how do we harness it?

How ambitious is the new Commission?

On Cretu24 October 2014, the European Council reached an agreement on the 2030 Climate and Energy Framework. While Member States have presented the agreement as the best political outcome they could reach, many voices have criticised their lack of ambition. In particular, the text contains a 27% target for improving energy efficiency by 2030 … but the target is non-binding! The impact on building renovation is therefore yet to be seen.

Meanwhile, Members of the European Parliament are putting pressure on the Commission to strengthen the existing regulatory framework. This really begs the question as to whether both the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) are really strong enough to allow Europe to stop wasting energy?

JunckerJean-Claude Juncker, the head of the new Commission, has made it clear that he will focus his mandate on ensuring the correct implementation of existing legislation rather than putting forward new proposals. One should therefore hope and expect a full implementation of the current EED and EPBD at national level. It’s good news as many Member States are still lagging behind. Still, the question remains: just how long will the Commission be able to resist Parliament’s call for a more ambitious framework altogether? The months to come should tell us more.

Polyurethane, a key ally in building renovation

Implementing (and possibly improving) the current legislative and regulatory framework is all the more important given that the technology exists to achieve ambitious targets. Polyurethanes are part of the solution: rigid foams made of polyurethane are great insulators. Concretely, this means reducing fuel costs to heat buildings preserving energy. Did you know that renovating buildings could reduce Europe’s energy needs by 30%? Imagine the change this would bring to your monthly energy bill!

Would you like to know more about polyurethanes and energy savings in buildings? Have a look at our video!

In the meantime, connect with us on Twitter and tell us your story. Use the #PUrenovation and tell us how you save energy in your building!

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Polyurethanes and the cold food chain: time to talk about food security

In 2015 Milan will host the Universal Exposition entitled “Feeding the Planet, Energy for life”. It will focus on nutrition and resource across the world. As we write these lines, there are more than 7.2 billion people on the planet: growing world population is a challenge for us all, and it is our responsibility to participate in meeting it.

Research and innovation will be key in tackling avoidable waste. Polyurethane is crucial to ensuring the safety and efficiency of one of the most important links of the food chain: the cold food chain. From farm to fork, your food will travel in food processing facilities, containers and trucks, cold rooms and display cabinets before reaching your very own refrigerator or freezer and finally laying on your table, ready for consumption. Polyurethane is essential throughout: professional and domestic refrigerating appliances need strong insulation to ensure your food will not get spoiled by temperature changes. Not only does polyurethane ensures this insulation; polyurethanes have also been innovating constantly to ensure that we use less and less energy to preserve our foodstuff. Nowadays, refrigerators are 60% more efficient than 15 years ago. And we are committed to continue ensuring increased comfort and reduced environmental footprint for all users of polyurethane.Refigerators efficiency

European policy-makers are increasingly aware and mobilised on this issue. This month the European Parliament welcomed Franz Fischler, Chair of the EXPO Milano 2015 Scientific Steering Committee: he notably told Members of the European Parliament about the importance of reducing waste to ensure food security. The European Commission was expected to present a proposal on food waste last Summer, and we hope it will soon present a concrete and ambitious proposal.

The coming months leading to EXPO 2015 will be a great opportunity for all of us to think upon our role and responsibility in the food chain. ISOPA will bring to the debate the innovation and performance of the polyurethane industry which makes the cold food chain a key element of tackling food waste in Europe.

If you would like to learn more about the role of polyurethane in the cold food chain, you can have a look at our factsheet.

In the meantime, you can connect with us on Twitter and tell us your story: use the #PUfoodwaste  to tell us how you participate in tackling food waste!

 

 

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Polyurethanes can save lives!

Last week, a researcher was rescued from one of Germany’s deepest caves, where he had been trapped more than 1,000 meters deep for 11 days. Hundreds of rescuers and doctors, coming from five different countries, took part in the operation.

And polyurethane was there to help them, too.

Johann Westhauser’s head was protected by a helmet made of polyurethane on his way out of the cave. Given that the unfortunate explorer suffered head injuries during a rock fall, it was especially crucial that this helmet provided the best level of safety during his rescue when his head had to be kept stable during upwards movement through extremely narrow cave passages.

In addition to offering safety and comfort, a very important property of polyurethane made helmet is to serve as an impact protector. It was all the more necessary as rescuers had to protect Johann W. from more rock falls as they got him out. Luckily, the great work of the rescue team combined with the strong material protection led him out of the cave safely.

Polyurethane is in fact found in a wide range of safety equipment, including safety helmets and safety goggles. In helmets, it is generally in the foam padding which is vital to protect your head from shock.

So, next time you wear a safety helmet, be it for work or leisure, remember that polyurethane could just save your life!

Johann Westhauser on his way back to the surface, his head safely protected by a helmet made of polyurethane

 

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Polyurethanes and the circular economy: we make it happen

Did you know that the polyurethane present in your car, your mattress and Circular economyyour appliances can be recycled? There are in fact a large number of possibilities for dealing with polyurethanes that have reached their end-of-life. They can be recycled mechanically or chemically, and can also be submitted to feedstock recycling, which turns them into building blocks for other applications, or recovered, thus providing energy for other activities. In fact, even though recycling is the most well-known option for a number of daily products used by Europeans, it is not always the most environmentally-friendly option: in the case of polyurethane, recycling can require a great deal of energy, and it is sometimes most sensible to recover its energetic value through combustion, what we call energy recovery. In the EU, this is achieved through clean and careful incineration, during which pollutants are filtered out and energy is produced as a result of the combustion process.

Whatever the path chosen one thing is certain: producers and users of polyurethane are engaged to ensure that polyurethane is reinvested in the economy without burdening the environment. This week we’ll be participating at the EU Green Week, presenting the performance of polyurethane in a green and circular economy. Come visit our stand! Let us know if you are coming in the comments or on Twitter!

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