New era of recycling


We are exploring new ways to recycle our Glass Mineral Wool and Rock Mineral Wool to meet our target to take back 25% of the scrap generated from our customers’ job sites by 2025 and to have programmes in place to recycle insulation from demolition.

The construction industry is responsible for more than 35% of total waste in Europe and devours more than 50% of all extracted raw materials. The total amount of insulation waste generated by European countries is significant. In France, for example, the volume of
glass mineral wool waste is 85,000 tonnes a year — a figure that is expected to triple as renovation initiatives are accelerated as part of the European Green Recovery. In Belgium and the Netherlands there are about 30,000 tonnes of mineral wool insulation waste every year with 26,000 tonnes of that total coming from demolition. The moral imperative to reuse, reduce and recycle this waste is overwhelming, but the business case is equally compelling.

Our Circular Economy Manager in Western Europe, Marc Bosmans, and his team are exploring new ways to recycle Glass Mineral Wool waste

At present the majority of all insulation waste — construction and demolition — is destined for landfill and in Europe prices can reach up to €400 per tonne. Another key concern for many customers is whether they will be able to landfill at all in the future. Countries such as Austria, are already considering a landfill ban for mineral wool. Heading up our project team to find new recycling solutions for Glass Mineral Wool from construction and demolition in Western Europe is Marc Bosmans, the region’s Circular Economy Manager.

“If all the insulation waste generated in Europe was channelled to recycling it would be enough raw material for two of our plants for a year,” he says.

“The challenge, however, is that although most Glass Mineral Wool products are infinitely recyclable, they are light density which makes them harder to process. In addition, demolition waste is usually between other layers such as bricks and plaster which means it has to be separated.

“We are exploring ways to navigate these issues and transform used Glass Mineral Wool into glass cullet which could be again fed into our manufacturing process.” This would mean after years of saving energy first time around, the recycled insulation is ready for a second energy-saving life cycle.

New sustainable system to take back customer construction cut-offs

Knauf Insulation in Germany has developed a scheme to take back scrap Mineral Wool from construction sites and recycle it. The new system — ‘RESULATION’ — is designed to maximise resource use through recycling and contribute to minimising the environmental impact of construction waste. In the past, businesses had no choice except to collect off-cuts of insulation and give it to waste disposal companies.

Now thanks to RESULATION it is possible to transform Rock Mineral Wool residue into ‘recycling bricks’ which can be used in the production of new Rock Mineral Wool insulation boards and allow Glass Mineral Wool scrap to be transformed into ceiling tiles.

For customers the RESULATION process is simple. After an order is placed, businesses are given empty RESULATION bags, which are collected when filled and sent for recycling.

Siegfried Huber, Operations Coordinator Germany, says: “Our aim is to ultimately offer a full service to customers so that they never have to concern themselves with construction cut-offs or their removal — Knauf Insulation will take care of everything from the delivery of products to the disposal of any scrap.”



Read our Annual Review 2020!