Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Our journey to more sustainable packaging
At Knauf Insulation we have always been defined by sustainability.
Our solutions save energy, cut emissions and create better buildings.
However, to reduce our environmental impact, we need to put every aspect of our products under the microscope to find new ways of doing more with less — from the solutions we create to the packaging that we use.
Our packaging is 100% recyclable and more sustainable than ever, but we remain committed to finding new ways to reduce, reuse and recycle the materials we need.
Reducing our resource
Our For A Better World sustainability strategy commits us to reduce our virgin plastic packaging by more than 25% by 2025.
In our European markets, we have cut the amount of ink used on our packages to 18%, and we have limited colour use to maximum two colours.
Reducing virgin plastic
We are committed to cut virgin plastic use by more than 25% by 2025.
We are reducing the amount of virgin plastic and replacing it with Post-consumer Resin (PCR) without compromising handling, storage and transportation efficiency.
Currently 25% of our plants have introduced 30% of PCR, and more trials are ongoing for a full transition by early 2024.
We use technology that compresses our products to ensure the maximum number of packages can be transported in the minimum number of trips.
This is important as less truck, rail or shipping kilometres add up to significant reductions in fuel and transportation carbon. It allows bigger delivery loads per cubic metre for our customers and reduced storage requirements as well.
For instance, our compression technology allows 5,800m2 of our 50mm Mineral Plus to be delivered in a single truck with an 80m3 capacity, while the same amount of Rock Mineral Wool would need 3.6 trips.
We aim to continuously improve our compression systems and the strength of our packaging.
Continuous improvement in terms of package compression technology and optimal levels of thickness for our packaging requires a fine balance.
While it is important to use less plastic it is also essential that the packaging is strong enough to withstand compression, bad weather, haulage, long-term storage and on-site handling.
Our research and development teams are working to establish the ideal thickness levels that provide outstanding customer service as well as achieve our sustainability ambitions.
For example, our Technical Solutions division has reduced the plastic it uses by 27% by using thinner film without any compromise in strength.
How we are reusing packaging resources
A key commitment of Knauf Insulation’s For A Better World sustainability strategy is to collect 35% of the wooden pallets that are used for our Glass Mineral Wool and sort, repair and reuse them.
Importance of reuse
A total of 25 million cubic metres of wood are used for distribution packaging and pallets in Europe every year and the average lifespan of a timber pallet can be up to seven years.
The importance of reuse as a way to improve resource management has been highlighted by the European Union which found that one cubic metre of wood is needed to make 22 EUR-pallets — those specified by the European Pallet Association — while one cubic metre of wood can be used to repair 150 recycled EUR-pallets.
Reuse in action
To ensure the maximum lifespan of a pallet there must be a commitment to repair damage where possible and reuse it.
In France, through our partner, we collected 19000 pallets since 2021, in Benelux and Germany- around 15000 pallets were collected and reused.
In Turkey, our Eskisehir site reuses more than 6200 pallets saving around 87 tonnes of timber every year.
In Surdulica, Serbia, 2489 pallets were repaired in 2021, saving 91,427 cubic meters of wood. In 2022, 13,300 metal pallets from the same location were collected and reused.
We are running more trials in various countries to increase our efforts
How we are recycling packaging resources
At the heart of Knauf Insulation’s circular economy ambitions is a commitment to recycling at every level – from recycling manufacturing off-cuts and construction site scraps to recycling our packaging and deconstruction products.
Recycling customer packaging
Our plastic packaging is 100% recyclable. Under our For A Better World sustainability strategy we have committed to take back between 25% and 50% of our plastic film from our customers for recycling by 2025.
Increasing our recycled content
Our 2025 strategy also commits the company to reduce virgin plastic use by more than 25% and increase the amount of recycled plastic (PCR) in our packaging from 15% to 30% where possible.
In the UK, we have already introduced packaging that uses a minimum of 30% of recycled content as well as state-of-the-art compression technology.
Using 30% of recycled plastic material in our packaging can decrease the carbon footprint of the packaging by 25%.
Delivering a circular economy
Our initiatives to reduce, reuse and recycle packaging contribute to Knauf Insulation’s overall ambition to deliver a circular economy and cut waste to landfill to zero.
We have achieved significant successes. Our Wood Wool business has been sending zero scrap to landfill since 2022 and many of our Rock Mineral Wool plants are now zero waste.
But achieving zero waste company-wide is a journey of continuous improvement and we are constantly exploring new ways to cut waste.
For example, we have built a new Mineral Wool recycling facility in Belgium which will convert scrap from our plants and from customers’ construction sites into the raw material needed to manufacture new Mineral Wool.
In addition, we are committed to using more external recycled material in our batch and have set targets of more than 25% for our Rock Mineral Wool and over 65% for our Glass Mineral Wool.