Interview with EuCIA, European Composites Industry Association
For our latest issue of the ELCA newsletter, we spoke with EuCIA, European Composites Industry Association to discuss lightweighting, upcoming short and long term objectives and the greatest challenges for lightweight composites.
What are EuCIA´s long and short-term ambitions? Could you state them in terms of objectives, impact and goals:
As the European Composites Industry Association, we represent European national composite associations as well as industry-specific sector groups at EU level. With the support of its members EuCIA is actively contributing to building an economically and environmentally
sustainable European composites industry. EuCIA closely monitors relevant standards and legislation, actively communicates the ways in which composites contribute to a more sustainable world, and promotes educational activities. Our initiatives aim at enabling the healthy growth and continued competitiveness of composites manufacturing across Europe. The mission, objectives and activities of EuCIA are structured under the 3 following key pillars:
We Know – Industrial education and sharing of best practices.
We Show – Being active at EU level and influencing decision – making.
We Grow – Industrial growth and membership expansion across Europe.
Long terms ambitions, as a consequence, are focused on promoting composites applications and their high benefits and characteristics compared with traditional materials – such as steel and aluminum. EuCIA aims to act, as well as, on advocacy actions towards a balanced EU legislative environment for composites industry, active fostering and
involvement in innovative developments for the composites sector and networking at both European and international level. In the short term, we are currently focused on sustainability/circularity of composites materials, new applications of composites in the building and construction sector as well as new applications of structural thermoplastic composites.
What are the greatest challenges for lightweight composites? Where should we focus our efforts?
In the first place we still see enormous potential for lightweight composites both as enabling materials and for material replacement based on all its intrinsic benefits. However, as well as for most European industries, a strategic challenge today is that of rising energy prices, which affects the energy footprint of our raw materials and the processes to make material products as it does for alternative materials. From the point of view of the use of such products, it is obvious that the light weight is a rewarding factor in reducing energy consumption during the use phase. Another very important topic is that of circular economy and sustainability, on which we have been working for several years already. Having published in 2016 our EcoCalculator free online tool, which allows for LCA analysis of composite products based on specific data for the European market, we are currently working to promote knowledge and best practices to improve the already excellent sustainability and circularity of our materials, which is struggling to be recognized by the market and consumers due to legislative barriers and logistical problems.
How do you expect to contribute to the decisions that are made by the EC in the Green Deal?
We want to play a leading role in this process, because we sincerely believe that composite materials can help support and develop the transition to a Green Economy due to their unique properties of light weight, strength, and durability. Together with the other players in the supply chain, we are currently trying to identify the most appropriate tools to facilitate and accelerate this transition process of our industry for the benefit of our society. The recent EU RePower plan focus on development of Wind Energy; Composite material is the main material of the wind turbine (68% according to JEC study), and ongoing innovation is allowing the launch of new generation of blades, longer stronger with lower CO2 footprint.
What are your most relevant upcoming activities and projects?
Certainly, an important project in which we have been involved in recent years is the support, technical and financial, of the initiative by CEN TC250/WG4 to prepare guidelines for the use of composite materials in construction. We hope that these rules, which are not currently in the Eurocodes, can be adopted soon for the benefit of all member countries of the European Union. This evaluation will accelerate the larger use of composite material in construction, proposing durable and lighter elements. We are also very interested in continuing the collaboration with CSR Europe that recently led to the publication of a blueprint entitled “Composite materials: a hidden opportunity for the circular
economy”. EuCIA is proposing to set-up of a European Alliance for the Circularity of Composite Materials that involves stakeholders from relevant sectors could promote an innovative, competitive, and sustainable composite value chain in Europe that is fully in line with the priorities of the European Commission. There is a need to establish a logistical system, standards for recyclate, optimisation of rules and regulations as well as development of good markets for recycled composite materials.
Many thanks to EUCIA representatives for agreeing to speak with us, take a look at their official page here.
View issue 3 of our newsletter that features this interview plus more!
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