Knauf Insulation and Veolia Officially Open £10m Recycling Facility

“The new facility is able to process over 60,000 tonnes of glass jars and bottles per year, which equates to over 350 million bottles every year.”
Insulation company and energy efficiency specialist, Knauf Insulation has partnered with environmental solutions leader, Veolia and built a brand-new glass recycling plant in St Helens, UK.

The facility, which uses the latest technology to separate and sort glass, was opened this month and required a £10m investment. Hi-tech machinery includes vibrating screens to sort the incoming items by size, magnets to extract ferrous materials and eddy-current separators to remove non-ferrous metals.

Knauf Insulation has promised a ten-year commitment, which will guarantee glass materials to its insulation manufacturing plant. Knauf has been using recycled glass bottles in its insulation manufacturing for years already, but the new facility effectively secures its glass supply for years to come.

Veolia is committed to focusing on reducing carbon emissions by preventing pollution, preserving natural resources, protecting biodiversity and raising environmental awareness. From 2012 the environmental innovators planned to invest more than £1 billion on new infrastructure by the end of 2018.

The two companies reported that the technology being used is able to sort and separate glass at micro-level with exceptional precision. The quality and consistency of the glass supply now being produced means that they will be able to increase the percentage of recycled glass in the insulation batts.

John Sinfield, managing director at Knauf Insulation Northern Europe, believes that increasing the amount of recycled glass in their products has brought them a step further on their journey to sustainability. He said that the new facilities demonstrate what is possible when leaders of various domains collaborate to achieve common goals.

Estelle Brachlianoff, senior executive vice-president at Veolia UK & Ireland, said that not only was the £10m investment good for the environment, but it also stimulated the economy and created jobs for the community. She said that they were keen to see other key industry players follow suit, by viewing waste as an “indispensable commodity” and using circular economy in their production.

The new facility is able to process over 60,000 tonnes of glass jars and bottles per year, which equates to over 350 million bottles every year. The processed product can then be used at the insulation plant to manufacture glasswool insulation.

Paul van Oord, managing director of Pricewise Insulation and long-term affiliate of Knauf Insulation, is pleased that Knauf continues invest heavily in a sustainable approach to insulation. “Insulation is supposed to be an energy saver, but if the manufacturing process itself results in high carbon emissions, then it’s kind of defeating the purpose.”

Mr van Oord said that although Knauf had long been using recycled glass in its Earthwool production, the fact that they are now able to use an even higher percentage of glass in their insulation is even better news for the environment.

The location of the new recycling plant has been strategically planned to minimise the distance to the Knauf manufacturing plant. It is predicted that over 600,000 kilometres of road journeys will be saved, effectively reducing even more carbon emissions. 

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