Demolition, insulation and the power of our circular economy

News posted on 08.12.2016 on About us and Sustainability

Wearing masks, gloves and determined expressions, the workmen remove interior plasterboards before easily prying off mineral wool beneath. Next, they carefully remove wall insulation, detach acoustic ceiling tiles and release old technical pipe insulation. The material is then stacked according to insulation type and collected in a skip.

In just 1.53 minutes this YouTube video shows how ‘good as new’ mineral wool can be quickly, easily and safely removed from a demolition site and prepared to be reused in other buildings or reprocessed to make new construction products.

At Knauf Insulation we are working hard to close the loop of the circular economy by doing more with less, as you can read in our new sustainability report here. That is why we are supporting the European Insulation Manufacturers Association (Eurima) to promote the recycling of mineral wool from demolition sites through videos such as this and also information sheets that show the best ways to remove these products safely and with minimal effort

Extending the life of building materials is becoming an important consideration of Green Building Rating Systems as well as regional initiatives such as the European Commission’s Circular Economy Package that aims to extract “maximum value and use from materials” and BAMB — Buildings as Material Banks — a Europe-wide programme designed to reuse and recycle  demolition waste.

How we close the circular economy loop at Knauf Insulation

At Knauf Insulation we are continuously finding new ways to maximise the entire lifecycle of the materials that make up our products to contribute to the circular economy.

Our ECOSE® Glass Mineral Wool, for instance, is composed of up of 80% of recycled glass and a bio-based binder; our Wood Wool is harvested from sustainable sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council; and as much as 35% of our waste material from Rock Mineral Wool production is fed back into our system for reuse. In 2015 four of our plants celebrated a year of zero waste to landfill.

We are also dramatically reducing the amount of consumer waste on site by providing precision-cut products such as our Friction Fit insulation that fits neatly into required roof spaces as well as cut-to-fit customised solutions from our Technical Solutions division.

Meanwhile our new insulation products benefit hugely from our innovative compression technology which means that, for example, 6000m2 of 50mm Mineral Plus can be delivered in one 80m3 truck compared to the same amount of our Rock Mineral Wool that would require 3.6 trips. This means less fuel, less packaging, less waste and less hassle on site.

Ultimately, we must not forget that we are producing solutions that save energy — one of the most important resources of all.  Today a unit of energy used to manufacture a typical Glass Mineral Wool product saves 570 units in a 50-year use phase compared to 489 units in 2008. That’s an improvement of 16% in just seven years.

 Click here to read more in our last Sustainability Report 2016