New facility drives Knauf Insulation’s pioneering approach to the circular economy by recycling construction and deconstruction wastes.
2022 was a milestone year for Knauf Insulation with the opening of its new €15 million Glass Mineral Wool facility designed to take the company’s RESULATION recycling service to the next level.
The RESULATION service takes back off-cuts and waste Mineral Wool from demolition and construction sites to be recycled at Knauf Insulation plants.
The opening of the new facility at Visé in Belgium is a major step forward to meet Knauf Insulation’s For A Better World sustainability commitments to take back 25% of customer waste from job sites wherever possible, have programmes in place in five countries to recycle insulation from deconstruction sites and send zero production waste to landfill.
Already in Germany and Austria, RESULATION is enjoying major success with bags of scrap Mineral Wool being taken back at scale from construction job sites (see box-out story below).
But the new Visé RESULATION plant is significant step forward because it is designed to recycle scrap Glass Mineral Wool into glass cullet required to manufacture new Knauf Insulation products.
Marc Bosmans, Knauf Insulation’s Group Sustainability Director, says: “The new facility enables old insulation that has been saving energy and emissions for many years to be recycled into new Mineral Wool for a second energy-saving life cycle.”
Already production off-cuts of Glass Mineral Wool from Knauf Insulation’s plants are being processed by the new facility as well as bags of scrap from job sites, however its major benefit is the ability to process deconstruction waste and experiment with new ways of making this more effective.
Waste from demolition sites is a major environmental issue with the construction industry responsible for more than 35% of total waste in Europe.
In Germany, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, Knauf Insulation estimates that more than 220,000 tonnes of Glass Mineral Wool waste are generated every year with around 85% of that total coming from demolition sites and 15% from construction.
Most of this waste is sent to landfill by deconstruction companies, construction contractors and waste collectors who need to find effective waste management solutions.
Thomas Baguette, Glass Mineral Wool Recycling Business Development Manager, says: “We are partnering with waste management companies because there are strong business advantages to using the RESULATION service. Landfill is becoming increasingly expensive and, in some countries, will be banned. For example, Austria plans to end landfill from 2027.
“In addition, new regulation is being proposed and implemented across Europe. In France, for example, Extended Producer Responsibility programmes are ensuring that building material manufacturers take financial responsibility to manage products at the end of their life in an environmentally responsible way.
“For example, in France, Knauf Insulation is a founding member of the non-profit eco-organisation Valobat which is designed to help companies achieve their new circular economy obligations that make manufacturers of building materials financially responsible for the end-of-life of their products.”
RESULATION, which as its name suggests celebrates a new approach to RECYCLING in the INSULATION industry, now provides customers with an efficient, effective, one-stop alternative to landfill or incineration.
“This is good for business, good for customers and great for the planet,” Thomas says. “We now want to significantly increase the volume of deconstruction material that we use as raw material at Visé.
“That is why we are campaigning to mandate better separation of this waste at source across Europe and joining forces with new waste partners so we can ensure better quality and higher volumes of material for our process.”
• To learn more about RESULATION visit www.resulation.eu and to understand how Mineral Wool can be effectively removed during deconstruction search for the European Insulation Manufacturers’ video ‘Mineral Wool Insulation – Deconstruction in Practice’ on YouTube which was supported by Knauf Insulation.
RESULATION’S JOB SITE SUCCESS
Knauf Insulation’s RESULATION service in Germany and Austria has been actively collecting Rock Mineral Wool scrap from job sites since 2020.
The service involves delivering RESULATION bags to customers’ construction sites and using them to fill with scrap Mineral Wool.
These off-cuts are then collected by Knauf Insulation partners, brought back to the company’s production plants, and fed back into the manufacturing process to be transformed into new Rock Mineral Wool.
The aim is to now step up the volume of scrap material from construction sites.
This ambition is supported by a partnership with the Knauf Group’s residual materials and recycling expert GFR which is providing large press containers to allow the collection of larger quantities of Mineral Wool residue.
Helping customers into the circular economy
Circular Economy initiatives are also taking place in Slovenia where the company takes back left-overs from panel OEM customers and integrates the material at its Škofja Loka plant.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands and Italy, Knauf Insulation collects and recycles Glass Mineral Wool residues from modular building customers.