Composite materials for a circular model


The ‘Create a sustainable and competitive economy for the European composites industryFlat has been featured in the European SDG Summit. The document, prepared by leonardo Y CSR Europe with the support of Bax & Company, deepens the potential of composites from the perspective of circularity in the different relevant sectors, including aerospace. It also takes stock of the prospects for the development and use of these materials for the green industrial transition. The Blueprint is the result of the work of the New Materials & Circular Economy Accelerator, led by CSR Europe with the support of Leonardo, which has seen the participation of a wide range of stakeholders, including companies, European associations and universities.

Composite materials: a look at the figures
In this perspective, it is worth noting that, in the aerospace sector alone, composite materials used for aircraft instead of traditional aluminum alloys have led to a 20% reduction in aircraft weight. A reduction of around 580 kilograms per plane translates into a fuel saving of 10-15%, generating a positive environmental impact through an approximately 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. These figures are part of a composite materials market with a global value in 2018 of 13.45 billion euros, which is expected to reach 27.3 billion euros in 2026. In fact, the high performance of composite materials has accelerated their use and , consequently, the production of waste. . It is estimated that, by 2025, some 680,000 tons of composite waste will be produced in Europe, with a recovery plant capacity of 100,000 tons. This offers an opportunity to implement circular economy models.

Shared goals for sustainable growth
Participation in the Summit of leonardo CEO Alessandro Profumoalso in his capacity as President of TORCH (European Aerospace, Defense and Security Association), and renata scrum, Senior Vice President of Sustainability, demonstrated the central role of sustainability and circularity in the company’s strategy. The Summit focused on accelerating the green transition, a key issue for the international positioning and competitiveness of the industry. The issue is even more significant today given the EU’s need for greater independence in resource provision. These objectives are aligned with the vision of the European Commission and the European Green Deal sustainable growth strategy, whose objective is to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Leonardo and the entire sector are playing a key role in achieving these goals. It is through the promotion of innovative production processes, the development of technologies with a lower environmental impact and the adoption of a circular economy approach throughout the value chain, also through the systemic action of stakeholders, that can bring about the necessary change.

The Blueprint: From materials analysis to a snapshot of today’s ‘circularity’, to future challenges
In this context, the Composite Materials Blueprint offers a practical contribution in implementing a circularity strategy and in promoting the efficient use of resources. The document provides a detailed analysis of the compounds (types, production technologies and application areas) that describes the status of these materials in terms of circularity and the opportunities and challenges that arise to overcome the obstacles of the related sustainability model. This first step aims to involve stakeholders from relevant sectors such as aerospace, defense, chemical, energy and maritime in the development of an innovative, competitive and sustainable value chain in Europe.

Go to the FlatCreate a sustainable and competitive economy for the European composites industryCSR+Europe_Composite+Materials+FINAL.pdf (


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