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Composites Waste - How to Track and Reduce Waste?

Updated: Jul 1, 2022

The necessity of high-performance materials has become latent in high technology sectors such as aerospace, automotive, renewable energy, and sports. The expanding impact on future manufacturing of waste management legislation and increasing the price of current waste management methods stress the importance of an efficient and sustainable way of recycling waste generated in the composites industry.

Aerospace companies estimated that 30–50% of materials in aircraft production are scrapped due to the way it is manufactured. Companies need to pay for landfilling the composite materials that otherwise can be a valuable resource. In a view that looking at individual production waste outputs could maximize the material reuse or recycling capability, gaining information about the type of scrap materials could inform the development of a composite reuse/recycling supply chain.

This blog focuses on understanding the scale of scrap created in individual composites manufacturing processes to assess its potential value in terms of reuse/recycle capabilities.



The waste hierarchy presented in the EU Waste Framework Directive released in 2008, introduces a scale to classify the different types of waste into five levels according to their management procedures:

Figure 1. EU waste framework


Tools for resource flow mapping are widely used for manufacturing optimization. Process mapping allows us to realize the current scenario and act as a benchmark for improvement activities. Process mapping tools have been used to identify waste that is ‘most suitable for transformation'. This suggests that process mapping is concentrating on waste where the potential of maximization of value from transforming waste is possible.