Decarbonising our plants

Energising the plant

Knauf Insulation is on a mission to decarbonise all manufacturing plants to deliver net zero embodied carbon products. It is a commitment that requires the complete transformation of everything we do.

“We have no choice but to be ambitious. To achieve our commitment to deliver net zero embodied carbon products we must investigate every stage of our products’ lifecycle and brainstorm new ways of doing everything.”

These are the words of Jean-Pierre Pigeolet, Knauf Insulation’s Products and Buildings Sustainability Manager, who is focused on the company’s biggest embodied carbon challenge of all, manufacturing.

Embodied carbon is generated at every stage of a product’s lifecycle from the sourcing of raw materials to its ultimate disposal.

“At Knauf Insulation the majority of CO2, around 65%, is generated during plant manufacturing processes,” Jean-Pierre says.

“For example, the annual amount of electricity consumed by our plants is equivalent to the indirect emissions generated from powering 200,000 homes.”

In 2020 we committed to our zero-carbon ambition and to keep the objective on track set a 2025 target to reduce the embodied carbon of our products by 15%.

Knauf Insulation
Jean Pierre Pigeolet quote

10 ways we are shrinking our carbon footprint

1 Setting ambitious targets

Using a combination of renewable sources onsite and offsite we have estimated that some of our Glass Mineral Wool plants have the potential to save up to 90% of the CO2 generated by electricity in just five years.

6 Continuously improving

We have a laser focus on saving energy wherever possible. This may mean new LED lights, new energy load management to limit peak energy use, introducing new technology or it could mean developing innovations such as new melting processes.

2 Installing panels and turbines

Plants are installing photovoltaic panels and wind turbines to generate their own green energy on site. Some are aiming to reduce their direct grid consumption by 10% to 30% as a result.

7 Getting competitive

Every year we allocate a substantial amount of our capital expenditure to an internal competition to find new plant projects that can demonstrate long-term carbon or waste savings.

3 Drawing up new contracts

We are drawing up contracts with suppliers of ‘cleaner’ energy from wind, solar and hydro sources that are certified by credible Guarantees of Origin.

8 Using more recycled material

Using recycled materials such as used glass bottles generates less carbon than processing virgin materials. That is why we are looking for new sources of used material to integrate into our processes. In our plants we use at least 50% of cullet to produce our solutions and 80% at others.

4 Finding new power sources

We are looking into Power Purchase Agreements, long-term contracts with these developers of renewable sources to ensure a steady long-term supply from these sources.

9 Getting closer to customers

We aim to expand the footprint of our company to be closer than ever to customers. Our new Malaysia plant, for example, ships deliveries to Australia and New Zealand.

5 Drawing up roadmaps

Not every plant has easy access to clean renewable energy. And not all plants are powered by just electricity. That is why we are examining the potential of alternative energy sources of the future such as hydrogen and biogas.

10 Saving emissions of Belgium

Over the past decade Knauf Insulation has produced almost 14 million tonnes of Rock and Glass Mineral Wool — in its application it allowed saving the equivalent of more than the annual carbon emissions of Belgium.