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Pioneering partnerships define first year of success for Knauf Insulation recycling centre

By Knauf Insulation
March 20, 2023

Knauf Insulation’s ground-breaking recycling plant at Visé in Belgium is celebrating its first anniversary by playing a key role in pioneering partnerships to drive the future of the circular economy in Europe while supporting the company’s aim to send zero waste to landfill.

Since opening in March 2022, the €15 million facility and recycling service — known as RESULATION to celebrate its innovative approach to recycling insulation — has been exploring ways to collect Glass Mineral Wool scrap from de-construction and construction sites to transform it into the glass cullet needed to create new Glass Mineral Wool.

The move follows partnerships with Belgian companies within the Association of Glass Manufacturers (inDUfed), the Association of Waste Collectors (DEnuo) in Wallonia as well as a.o. EMbuild, the Association of Construction Companies, Tracimat, the Flemish demolition management organisation and Buildwise the private construction research institute previously known as BBRI in Flanders.

These partnerships have unlocked subsidies enabling deconstruction companies to explore new ways to drive the circular economy with RESULATION such as improving the effectiveness of sorting deconstruction material, the massification of transporting this material to Visé, automating processes and analysing the most effective way to dismantle buildings for recycling.

Global Recycling Day

Thomas Baguette, Knauf Insulation’s Business Development Manager Mineral Wool Recycling, says: “As this week marks Global Recycling Day and this is the first anniversary of our Visé facility, I am proud to say that these partnerships are clearly demonstrating the benefits of RESULATION. We are increasingly becoming known as an effective and one-stop alternative to landfill or incineration for scrap Glass Mineral Wool.

“We are also building an entirely new value chain by becoming recycling partners with these companies. We are all sharing our recycling expertise, the companies are supporting us and we are working together for the benefit of the planet, people and profit.

Thomas Baguette, Glass Mineral Wool Recycling Business Developer

“It is only through partnerships that we will create the circular economy momentum needed to transform the construction industry. So, naturally, we are excited to see how these partnerships will evolve.”

A new recycling centre for French scrap

In a separate move, Knauf Insulation is also participating in a tender process organised by Valobat, the French building industry eco-organisation, which helps companies achieve their circular economy obligations. Under the tender process, Visé facility aims to be a recycling centre for Glass Mineral Wool under the Extended Producer Responsibility programme in France.

The programme ensures that building material manufacturers take financial responsibility for managing their products at the end of their life. “This is an exciting time because already there are many companies in France that are waiting to ship their Glass Mineral Wool waste to our centre,” says Thomas.

Working towards zero landfill

Another positive development for RESULATION has been its contribution to Knauf Insulation’s For A Better World sustainability strategy commitment to send zero production waste to landfill. In the past year, the recycling centre has been processing scrap from the company’s manufacturing plants at Visé and from Lannemezan in France. Plans are now in the pipeline to process waste from the company’s other plants around Europe.

In addition to Knauf Insulation’s aim to send zero production waste to landfill, the company has also committed to take back 25% of customer waste from job sites wherever possible and have programmes in place in five countries to recycle Mineral Wool from deconstruction sites.

Construction generates 35% of Europe’s waste

Marc Bosmans

Marc Bosmans, Knauf Insulation’s Group Sustainability Director, says: “The imperative to recycle deconstruction waste is more urgent than ever. The construction industry uses more than 50% of all extracted raw materials in Europe and generates more than 35% of all waste. Clearly, the environmental impact of this is unacceptable and we need solutions now.

“The business case is equally urgent. Landfill is becoming expensive across Europe and some countries such as Austria are phasing it out completely. We need to change our mindset from seeing waste as a challenge to regarding it as an opportunity.”

Knauf Insulation estimates that around 85,000 tonnes of Glass Mineral Wool waste are generated every year in France, while in Belgium and the Netherland the figure is around 30,000 with 26,000 tonnes of that total coming from demolition.

Visé centre is a tribute to technical expertise

“In 2022 we treated more than 1,200 tonnes of total Glass Mineral waste so we are just at the start of our journey,” says Thomas. “However, clearly, our ambition is to dramatically increase the volume of scrap Glass Mineral Wool that we can process.

“One of the most important milestones of the RESULATION service was ensuring the technology was producing the high-quality cullet that our Glass Mineral Wool solutions require as their raw material. We have been delighted by the results and that is a tribute to the RESULATION team’s technical expertise.”



Discover more about the recycling facility in the video:

• Knauf Insulation is committed to driving the circular economy For A Better World. To read more visit our sustainability site here.

Visit the Global Recycling Day site to learn more about how to make a difference on March 18 here.