Progress For A Better World

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Knauf Insulation - For a better world

After achieving four out of five 2020 sustainability targets, we have raised our ambition to lower our environmental impact even further by focusing on targets that will transform our company by 2025.

In October 2020 we launched our new sustainability strategy For A Better World with a focus on Putting People First, Achieving Zero Carbon, Delivering A Circular Economy and Creating Better Buildings.

To ensure these words were translated into concrete action we set demanding mid-term targets for 2025 which were designed to transform our business and build on the sustainability success of the previous decade.

From 2010 to 2019 we cut our waste to landfill by 67%, reduced our CO2 emissions and energy use by 23%, cut our water discharge by 81% and reduced Lost Time Accidents by 56.5%. We achieved four out of five of the targets we set ourselves in 2010 ahead of the 2020 deadline — only our zero waste target was not achieved.

Today our 2025 goals focus more profoundly on what sustainability means for our company taking a more fundamental approach to every environmental impact.

Since 2020 we put in place demanding new metrics against our baseline of 2019 to measure, for example, embodied carbon — the carbon generated at every stage of our products’ life — while launching a range of initiatives to improve our environmental impact such as exploring new ways to recycle customer waste.

Group Sustainability Director Vincent Briard says: “We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time before 2025, but we now have solid foundations in place to move forward.”

Safety First

2020 was Knauf Insulation’s safest year on record. The entire company achieved 100 days without an accident that resulted in time off work and many of our plants experienced record-breaking periods of safety.

As the challenges of the pandemic heightened risk awareness for everyone, we launched our Take Care Everywhere campaign to maintain focus on the Knauf Insulation safety principles in addition to increasing hazard spotting tours by 50% and safety dialogues by 85%.

In 2020 our Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR)* was down to 6.5 from 9.1 in our baseline year of 2019 putting us within reach of our For A Better World 2025 target of reducing TRIR by 55%.

As result we set ourselves a more ambitious deadline. By 2023 we aim to achieve that 55% target and reduce this TRIR figure to 5.0 at a maximum.

*TRIR involves dividing the number of injuries at a company by the total number of hours worked by all employees and then multiplying by a million. It sounds complicated, but TRIR is the industry benchmark and is used to measure ALL accidents not just incidents resulting in lost time from work.

Vincent Briard, Group Sustainability Director

Embodied carbon

Against our 2019 baseline we are committed to reducing our embodied CO2 by 15% by 2025. This is the CO2 generated at every stage of our products’ life cycle from the sourcing of materials to ultimate disposal.

For years we have been measuring the embodied carbon of our products through the Life Cycle Assessment process and publishing results in Environmental Product Declarations. These examine the environmental impact of our products from the cradle to the grave.

Now we are applying the same principle to every manufacturing plant and have created a 2019 baseline.

Focusing on cutting embodied carbon is a radical departure for Knauf Insulation from the assessment of our CO2 over the past 10 years which only reported emissions from energy consumption and the melting process, equivalent to 60% to 70% of total life cycle emissions. As we have done in the past, we will continue to monitor the carbon intensity: kg CO2 emissions/kg Mineral Wool manufactured.

For embodied carbon we need to put every single stage of a product’s lifecycle under the microscope and find a way to shrink its carbon footprint. We have made significant progress with green energy supply, less carbon intense recycled raw materials and reducing waste to landfill. We have also started to more precisely assess the carbon footprint of transport to our customers. We have also put in place a data collection system across the whole organisation, starting with manufacturing plants and including our enterprise resource planning system. We are now looking at automatising the process to make it more efficient.

Although 2020 was a challenging year, with several lines stopping and starting at the height of the pandemic, we were able to stabilise emissions to 2019 levels. This means that we need to be more ambitious in the years to 2025 to meet our target.

Landfill waste

Since 2010 we have reduced the amount of waste to landfill by 67% as a result of efficient improvements and recycling initiatives. Our Rock Mineral Wool scrap is repurposed into bricks that are fed back into the manufacturing process, our Glass Mineral Wool residue is repurposed into other products such as ceiling tiles and the insulation in Wood Wool multi-layer panels and boards is recycled.

At our Visé plant in Belgium we have seen an 80% reduction in landfill waste over the past seven years and in sites such as Nová Bana in Slovakia, zero waste goes to landfill.

However, in recent years our progress has plateaued. From 2019 to 2020, we reduced scrap to landfill by 5%.

We are piloting new initiatives that we believe will make a difference. The most important is our Looping project at Visé in Belgium that from 2022 will be able to recycle scrap Glass Mineral Wool.

In 2010 we set ourselves a target of zero production waste to landfill by 2020. We failed to achieve this, but by 2025 we aim to realise our zero goal.

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Knauf Insulation’s For A Better World key targets and progress

Knauf Insulation’s For A Better World targets and progress

Knauf Insulation and United Nations sustainable development goals

Our For A Better World sustainability strategy is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations — with a particular focus on the 10 above. The SDGs are designed to be the “world’s best plan to build a better world for people and our planet by 2030”. In addition, Knauf Insulation is a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. The company commits to align its strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.

Knauf Insulation and United Nations sustainable development goals


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