Universidad de Sevilla

Vicerrectorado de Investigación

Proyecto de investigación

Enzymatically recyclable and biodegradable polyurethane foams through innovative chemical formulations and ozonation processes (EnzyclO3)

Responsable: Juan Parrado Rubio
Tipo de Proyecto/Ayuda: Plan Estatal 2021-2023 - Colaboración Público-Privada
Referencia: CPP-2021-008800
Fecha de Inicio: 01-09-2022
Fecha de Finalización: 31-08-2025

Empresa/Organismo financiador/es:

  • Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación


  • Interplasp, S.L.
  • Cultiply, s.L.
  • Centro Tecnológico del Mueble y la Madera



  • Investigadores:
    • José María Orts Gómez

Resumen del proyecto:

PROBLEM: Flexible polyurethane foams (FPUFs) are widely used materials characterised by their high performance and optimal properties as cushioning products. In 2020, the total production of FPUF reached 1.1 million tons in the European Union and approximately 675,000 tons of FPUFs waste is generated annually in Europe. Due to their recalcitrant nature, burying in landfills and incineration are the most common destination at the end of FPUFs lifespan. Considering this information, looking for more sustainable management strategies that favour the circular economy and avoid environmental pollution is an urgent issue. The European Union considers the management of FPUF waste to be a priority to achieve the established objectives of reuse and recycling of domestic waste, included in the Landfill Directive (2018/850/EC): more than 55% by 2025; 60% in 2030 and 65% in 2035, including that by 2035, urban waste reaching landfills must be reduced to 10% or less.

IDEA: The EnzyclO3 project was created to offer a solution to FPUFs waste management and their associated pollution problem. Based on the results obtained in a previous R&D project, carried out by the majority of members of this consortium, the EnzyclO3 project will develop products and processes that address the FPUFs recycling. The EnzyclO3 strategy will intervene throughout the FPUF's entire life cycle, from its synthesis to its transformation and byproducts generation, as well as the end of its useful life after being used in commercial products and discarded, generating waste. This strategy consists, first, in the study of the relation between the polyurethane chemical structure and its resistance to biodegradation, and subsequently the development of FPUF formulations including groups that facilitate their degradation and recycling. These foam degradation and recycling processes will be investigated and developed below through the application of oxidative treatments and enzymatic hydrolysis. Derived from this interdisciplinary recycling process, two commercial solutions will be obtained. On the one hand, a biodegradable FPUF for its use in the furniture and bedding sectors, currently non-existent on the market; and on the other hand, a process of degradation and recycling of FPUFs based on oxidative treatment technology and enzymatic catalysis. In addition, more potentially patentable and marketable products and processes will likely emerge throughout the project, such as hydrolytic enzymes, a microbial production process from waste, or a product rich in carbon and nitrogen.


  • Interplasp: Interplasp S.L. is the largest producer of FPUF in Europe and a main client for the furniture and bedding sector. Its role in this project will be to scale the new FPUF formulations developed by CETEM, to obtain a biodegradable FPUF that also meets the specifications and requirements of the market to be used in mattresses and upholstered furniture products.
  • CETEM: Furniture and Wood Technological Centre of the Region of Murcia, has extensive experience in the coordination and development of R&D projects. In this proposal, its Materials Department, thanks to its deep knowledge of polyurethane chemistry and wide experience in R&D of FPUF formulations with high-value properties, will develop new FPUF formulations with improved biodegradability.
  • USE: The University of Seville, through its Enzyme Technology and Application Group, will optimise a method previously developed by them for scaling up, which achieves the depolymerisation and biodegradability promotion of FPUFs through oxidative treatment technology. In addition, they will validate the increase in said biodegradability through enzymatic hydrolysis processes.
  • Cultiply: Cultiply is a biotechnology company focused on the innovation and optimization of industrial bioprocesses. Their role in this project will be to scale up the FPUF degradation process based on oxidative treatments and enzymatic hydrolysis, as well as industrially producing polyurethane degrading enzymes.

Ministerio Ciencias e Inovacion - NextGenEU - Plan Rec - Agencia Estatal

Vicerrectorado de Investigación. Universidad de Sevilla. Pabellón de Brasil. Paseo de las Delicias s/n. Sevilla