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Composites are offering sustainable and beautiful solutions for Europeans

News International-French

26 Jan 2016

Once known as ‘space-age materials’ composites are slowly shifting from exclusive military defense & space exploration usage to lightening the load for European manufacturing sectors like transportation and construction.

But, how do composites fit into the vision of sustainability in Europe, and what are the tools the industry need to realize EU sustainability goals?

On Tuesday 19th January 2016, some of Europe’s top industry leaders in the composite sector got together in Brussels to discuss composites and the role they will play in creating more sustainable industry for Europe. EuCIA President, Mr. Roberto Frassine, updated the crowd on a new, easy to use tool that will create outputs that will be compatible with the major analysis programs in the market.

The Eco Calculator was developed by EuCIA alongside with EY C&S Services, and Biinc. The tool will help by generating an Eco-fact sheet based on quality data that can be easily shared among clients and other stakeholders. The EuCIA President also announced that the web-based tool will be available in the second quarter of 2016.

Natalia Matting from the European Commission was also in attendance and helped to show the types of activities that Europe needs to tackle in order to fully benefit from a circular economy.

“The idea is to go from a linear economy, where we take, make and dispose to a a circular economy in which goods are reused instead of disposed”.

Early in 2015, the Commission has released its economy package proposal. The Commission have since incorporated a broader range of activities into the proposal including industry reuse, repair, industrial processes such as industrial symbiosis and new business models like the sharing economy.

The updated proposal hopes to maintain the value of products, materials and resources in the economy for as long as possible while minimising waste generation. Ms. Matting also pointed out the connection with the Juncker priorities, like protecting the environment and maintaining competitiveness go hand-in-hand with a sustainable future for Europe.

The uses of composites are expanding into new areas of Europe’s economy, adding sustainable solutions to much of Europe’s building and transportations sectors. A representative from FiberCore Europe showed how composites are being used in Holland for lockdoors, offering a sustainable solution for the country’s busiest passageways.

The BMW i3 may be the first mass-produced, composite car on the road, but, a presentation from Joachim Starke gave attendees a glance at the new BMW i8, and wow! The images got this author to reconsider the sexiness of composites. Composites may not be the sexiest industry in Europe, but from superyachts to planes, trains, and automobiles, to round building structures, some of the stunning products made with composites, certainly make this consumer’s A-list.

While composites may still command higher prices than other traditional manufacturing and building materials, their long-term benefits have proven to add sustainable solutions for many of Europe’s most innovative sectors including transportation, electrical, building, and infrastructure, industrial and energy. Europeans may not be profiting from the benefits of composite usage today, but it’s safe to say that the cost-effective lightweight materials are no longer light-years away from helping European manufacturers and consumers improve products and the environment.