Our Heraklith Wood Wool division is now sending zero waste to landfill.
It is an extraordinary milestone achieved two years ahead of Knauf Insulation’s For A Better World commitment to send zero waste to landfill by 2025.
So, how was it achieved?
Joachim Wieltschnig, our Wood Wool Sustainability Manager, says: “We worked waste stream by waste stream and clarified the routes of the material and, as we made progress, our waste disposal companies opened up new possibilities to recycle these materials.”
A major landmark was reached when our plants at Simbach and St. Egidien in Germany found an effective way to recycle more than 1,700 tonnes of scrap generated from the manufacture of Heraklith Wood Wool multilayer panels in 2019.
The Rock Mineral Wool sawdust from these panels is now sent from Simbach in Bavaria to St. Egidien in Saxony to create new products.
To treat the last major waste stream in 2022, our technical team with the Simbach plant then developed new equipment to compact scrap Wood Wool and EPS dust into pellets — such as those used for heating. This will enable additional companies to take this material from Simbach for use in other recycling processes such as substitute fuel.
For our plant in Zalaegerszeg in Hungary, the final challenge was to find a new way to avoid landfilling Wood Wool residue dust. Following extensive testing to ensure the material could be composted, it is now used as soil for use in applications such as landscaping. Two companies have now offered contracts to take this waste away for treatment.
“These were the last major waste streams that we needed to tackle,” says Joachim. “Now we do not need to rely on the goodwill of companies to treat our scrap but have more options for it to be reused or recycled. It took a lot of small steps over a long period of time, but we have finally achieved the exceptional result of sending zero waste to landfill.”
Increasing recycled content
Knauf Insulation is committed to using more than 65% external recycled material — from used bottles and other glass — for our Glass Mineral Wool and more than 25% external recycled material for our Rock Mineral Wool by 2025 as part of our For A Better World sustainability strategy.
Initiatives such as the building of a facility with recycling company Veolia in the UK to refine 60,000 tonnes of used bottles and jars into the cullet needed for Glass Mineral Wool are making a difference as is the creation of the new Visé recycling facility for demolition waste Glass Mineral Wool.
In 2021, we managed to increase the amount of recycled content in our Glass Mineral Wool by 3%, compared to 2020, bringing the total amount of recycled material used to 60.8%.
We are also continuously exploring new external waste sources for our Rock Mineral Wool. For example, we want to increase our use of ‘slag’ – waste from the steel industry – that can be recycled.