Europe’s leading flexible foam solutions provider, The Vita Group, is renowned for its long-history of innovation in sustainability and investing in circular economy products. Manufacturing industry-leading products from 100% recycled polyurethane (PU) foam for over 50 years, and recycles and re-bonds over 30,000T of its own and its customer’s process trim each year into a range of products such as carpet underlay, foam shock pad for artificial sports pitches, green roof spaces, and underlay for children’s playgrounds. As a result of this process Vita upcycles tens of thousands of tons of material from going to landfill every year
Recently the company launched its ‘enhancing everyday life’ vision setting out its ambition to lead the ESG agenda within the industry, outlining clear sustainability targets and aspirations for all of its operations. These include ensuring that all foaming plants are able to manufacture using sustainable polyols equivalents by 2030; and that no manufacturing waste is taken to landfill after 2040, an ambition which it has already achieved across two of its largest sites at Middleton and Accrington. But for Ian Robb, CEO of The Vita Group, this is just the beginning of a wider green development strategy.
“As we look towards a more sustainable and resilient future post-Covid,” he says, “conversations around reducing waste, increasing efficiency, while minimising carbon emissions have only grown louder. In tandem with these discussions, we are optimising our operations through the introduction of new and emerging technologies, enabling us to innovate and enhance our existing, and new product developments to achieve greater circularity, be more eco-friendly and rapidly bring new developments to market.
“Across the world, billions of people use PU foam products in their daily life but very few are aware of the huge range of applications the material has. PU foam provides comfort and support in homes, hygiene and medical products, filtration, and nearly every mode of transport. That’s why innovation and sustainability play a key part in our business development to ensure that all of these products are able to adapt to the modern lifestyle.
“Our four state-of-the-art innovation centres in Accrington, Corby, Middleton (UK) and Lithuania are crucial to bringing about the required change, by providing us with dedicated testing and research facilities. But sustainable manufacturing isn’t just about bettering our factories and workplaces. It’s about threading eco-friendly options through every new product we develop, and embedding green practices into our culture, purpose and values.
“That’s where our partnerships have played a crucial role. At our Corby facility, Vita produces its Cloud-9 carpet underlay. In meeting a common goal, we introduced an antimicrobial into our products ensuring they can maintain their freshness for longer, reducing waste and promising greater cost-efficiency for consumers.
“In 2017, we launched the Revosport shock pad. It takes 100% recycled material and infuses Vita’s open cell and reticulated foam technology to improve drainage on artificial pitches.
“Most recently, we have partnered with Dow on their ground-breaking RENUVATM program which will make high quality PU foam using polyols created from recycled mattress content.
“It’s been fantastic to see the strong interest from our customers across Europe for these, and other initiatives as we look towards setting a new and ambitious standard in sustainable manufacturing. We know that consumer demands are changing and with our current trajectory and aspirational approach, I am confident we’ll meet them.”