New multi-million pound facility turns glass into insulation

Sustainability Mon, Mar 12, 2018 10:01 AM

Knauf Insulation and Veolia have officially opened a new high-tech glass recycling facility in St Helens.

Each year, over 60,000 tonnes of used glass bottles and jars will now be given a new lease of life as the partners join forces to clean, separate and refine household glass, before transforming it into high performance, energy-saving insulation solutions.

Veolia’s world-first facility uses the latest technology to sort and separate glass at a micro-level with exceptional accuracy, delivering an ultra-pure glass cullet. The state of the art machinery includes vibrating screens for size sorting, magnets to extract ferrous materials and eddy current separators for non-ferrous materials.

The new facility enables Knauf Insulation to secure its glass supply and maximise the use of recycled materials instead of virgin minerals. Also the proximity of the new facility will save approximately 375,000 miles of road journeys.

The glass collected equates to over 350 million bottles thrown out yearly – which could otherwise end up in landfill or pollute our environment. With a £10M investment and a decade long commitment from Knauf Insulation, both companies are demonstrating their dedication to sustainable and circular manufacturing.

John Sinfield, Managing Director at Knauf Insulation Northern Europe, said: “Our insulation solutions play a key role in helping reduce carbon emissions and benefit the environment.

“We have been using recycled glass in our manufacturing process for some time already. As well as securing our glass supply, the quality and consistency that we are getting now from the new facility will enable us to increase further the percentage of glass cullet we use in the manufacture of our Glass Mineral Wool insulation solutions, taking us one step further in our sustainability journey.

“This is also a real boost for the circular economy and the fact we have delivered this in partnership with Veolia demonstrates what can be achieved when two leaders in their respective fields work together to achieve mutual goals.”

Estelle Brachlianoff, Senior Executive Vice-President at Veolia UK & Ireland, said: “This innovative new facility is a £10 million investment in the UK green economy which is good for jobs, good for the community and good for the planet.

“To see our site officially open today is a vote of confidence in our technology and the quality of cullet we produce - and by using a significant amount of this glass in its manufacturing process, Knauf Insulation is setting the standard for other manufacturers to follow – making use of recycled material mainstream rather than niche.

“We want to see this first-of-its kind partnership pave the way for others; where waste is seen as an indispensable commodity and given a completely new lease of life. It would be fantastic to see more key industry players follow Knauf Insulation and incorporate circular economy thinking into production.”

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