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Manufacturer partners with Veolia to recycle glass into insulation

Knauf Insulation, a leading mineral wool insulation manufacturer, has launched a ‘closed loop’ glass packaging recycling project with Veolia to produce energy saving insulation products.

Knauf Insulation, a leading mineral wool insulation manufacturer, has launched a ‘closed loop’ glass packaging recycling project with Veolia to produce energy saving insulation products.

The company has entered into a long-term contract with Veolia to support the construction of a state-of-the-art glass cullet processing facility next to its manufacturing plant in St Helens.

The facility will take glass from Veolia’s material recovery facilities in the region and process it to a ‘furnace-ready’ quality, providing Knauf Insulation with a stable supply of high quality recycled glass from packaging – a key raw material in energy saving insulation products.

Recycling process

The end-to-end process supports the strategies of both companies in regards to sustainability – recycling and preserving scarce raw materials. 

Tens of thousands of tonnes of glass will be cleaned, dried and crushed into small fragments to form ‘cullet’, which is then melted in a furnace and spun into glass mineral wool to make insulation rolls for ceilings, walls and pipes.

The recycled wool replaces the need to use virgin raw materials from quarries. 

Recycling also uses less energy than traditional methods of manufacturing, with the associated energy saving generated from recycling a single glass bottle equal to powering a 100-watt light bulb for almost an hour. 

Security of supply

Veolia’s £10 million investment in the project will create 18 permanent jobs at the facility.

Estelle Brachlianoff, senior vice-president at Veolia UK & Ireland, said the first-of-its-kind venture represented “significant investment in circular thinking”.

“[It] will save raw materials, lessen energy demand, cut CO2 emissions and reduce the amount of materials going to landfill”, she said.

John Sinfield, managing director at Knauf Insulation Northern Europe, added: “We are delighted to be working with Veolia on this project, which perfectly aligns our goals for sustainability and the circular economy. 

“Given recent shortages impacting the construction sector, our customers can be reassured that we are working proactively upstream to further enhance the security of our supply.”

The facility is due to be built by the end of 2017.