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Thermoset composite materials are used in a wide range of applications in industries such as automotive and construction. In Europe, approximately 1 million tons of composites are manufactured each year.

CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced thermosetting polymer), such as CF/Epoxy, has been used for aerospace fields as high strength, and light weight material.

Although there are many successful uses for thermoset composite materials, recycling at the end of the life cycle is a more difficult issue. However, the perceived lack of recyclability is now increasingly important and seen as a key barrier to the development or even continued use of composite materials in some markets. Where it is economically cost effective to recycle, materials recycling operations are already well established and driven by economics, for instance in the metals industries.

Polymers are generally more difficult to recycle and the economic incentives to recycle are less favourable, particularly when waste disposal in landfill is relatively cheap. Consequently, in order to protect the environment, legislation has to be introduced often combined with the use of economic instruments (such as taxes) to encourage recycling to take place. Furthermore, waste management is now a high priority within the European Union and there is a well known hierarchy of routes for dealing with waste. In decreasing order of desirability these are:

Prevent waste through prevention at source during manufacture;

Reuse a product;

Recycle material;

Incinerate waste;