Case study

TPU truck tarps will drive circularity with easier recycling

FREITAG makes heavy duty bags from used truck tarps. The standard tarp material is PVC, which, though fine for reuse, is not as easy to recycle as tarp material made with thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). We’re taking on tarp circularity by developing TPU prototypes for truck tarps.
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Develop high-performance, fully circular tarps for recycling

For decades, FREITAG has maintained a low ecological footprint by collecting PVC truck tarps and upcycling them into bags. Recently, the company searched for a more sustainable tarp material that could withstand repeated recycling at the bags’ end-of-life stage. With the environment in mind, FREITAG sought a material that was flexible enough to begin life as a truck bed or trailer cover, transform into a heavy duty bag, and end up being recycled into new products.

A new truck tarp system requires high level industry change

To find a tarp material that’s fully circular—meaning you can recycle it more than once—FREITAG needed to partner with companies whose business models focus on circularity. The ideal process for the new truck tarp system was a cradle2cradle approach, which aims for maximum material sustainability by eliminating waste.

“For our Circular Tarp project, we brought partners from the entire value chain to the table and presented our vision. I am therefore all the more pleased to see that we are making progress together and working in partnership for the Circular Economy.”

Anna Blattert

Product Designer,FREITAG


TPU: A sustainable tarp material designed to cover it all

In line with our commitment to the circular economy, we are working with tarp manufacturer Heytex to develop a solution based on thermoplastic polyurethane. To create this sustainable tarp, TPU is applied to polyester fabric as a coating. The resulting tarp is flexible, resistant to abrasion, and heavy duty enough for high volume truck use. The tarp is one of the options FREITAG is looking at for the company’s move toward an even more sustainable future. 
Our Desmopan® TPU is well-suited for this new type of tarp. It's weather resistant, can handle a low-temperature load, and meets the cradle2cradle standards for high sustainability.
TPU tarps will add circular value through reuse in FREITAG bags, then through recycling, when truck tarps will be broken down into their chemical components and used in new products. TPU has long been mechanically recyclable, but chemical recycling of TPU tarps is a new venture. This process means that no tarp will go to waste at any point in the new tarp system. From truck tarp to a bag with straps to chemical components, it’s a circular lifecycle—and circularity is one of the best ways for an industry to reduce its load on the environment.

“As a chemicals company, we provide the basis for thousands of products and see it as our duty to speed up the transition to a circular economy. That's why it was immediately clear to us that we wanted to be involved in such an interesting cooperation project as FREITAG's right from the start."

Mark Scheller

Segment Manager, TPU,Covestro

New recyclable material cuts waste

The circular lifespan of TPU truck tarps

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Key Benefits

  • Durable: TPU has a long life span.
  • Robust: TPU repels waters and dirt, making it perfect for a heavy duty truck or trailer.
  • More sustainable: Thermoplastic polyurethane is easier to recycle than the existing PVC tarp.
  • Fully circular: Each truck tarp furthers the circular economy by being repeatedly recyclable.

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