In 2021 Knauf Insulation recorded year-on-year safety record improvements of 12%, while progress remained stable in terms of sending less Rock and Glass Mineral Wool waste to landfill and reducing the embodied carbon of the company’s solutions. this consolidation is expected to provide solid foundations for major breakthroughs in the coming years.
Knauf Insulation has marked a year of consolidation in terms of its zero carbon and circular economy goals.
In 2020 the company launched its For A Better World sustainability strategy with long-term commitments to deliver net zero embodied carbon products, delivering a circular economy and committing to zero harm.
To ensure these commitments were kept on track, the company set ambitious goals for 2025 including reducing product CO2 by 15%, sending zero waste to landfill and cutting the company’s accident rate by 55%.
So, what progress has been recorded in 2021?
Zero waste challenges
Sending zero production waste to landfill from Knauf Insulation’s Glass Mineral Wool, Rock Mineral Wool and Wood Wool plants by 2025 is a pillar of the company’s For A Better World sustainability strategy.
Since that announcement, the company has faced challenges in the management of Glass and Rock Mineral Wool scrap but achieved outstanding success with Wood Wool, starting to send zero waste to landfill from the end of 2022 three years ahead of schedule.
Knauf Insulation’s Wood Wool plants have over the years developed new ways to recover scrap that is produced within their facilities. They have also pioneered innovations to transform residues into products that can be used by external companies such as soil for landscaping or compacted pellets for heating products.
However, the overall volume of Knauf Insulation production waste to landfill in 2021 remained at the same level as in 2020.
So, what happened? Knauf Insulation’s new plant at Johor Bahru in Malaysia contributed to higher-than-normal scrap volumes as they came on-line and production processes were refined. Meanwhile, at Eskişehir in Turkey new processes led to high scrap volumes and plans are now in the pipeline to develop innovative ways to recycle these scraps.
An additional challenge is that in some countries there are not the facilities or the companies available to recycle waste. For example, in Europe, Glass Mineral Wool scraps are taken by recycling companies and transformed into new products such as ceiling tiles. Unfortunately, in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia where Knauf Insulation has sites there is not the infrastructure or third-party recycling facilities available to repurpose production scrap.
At the same time, several plants in the company have recorded zero scrap to landfill success such as the Rock Mineral Wool sites in Škofja Loka in Slovenia and Novi Marof in Croatia. At these plants, Rock Mineral Wool scraps are fed back into the manufacturing process, either via briquetting or directly depending on the melting technology.
Glass Mineral Wool sites such as St Helens in the UK, Lannemezan in France and Bernburg in Germany, have also logged significant achievements.
Now plans are underway to increase the volume of scraps which are recycled from plants, with Knauf Insulation investing in the construction of a €15 million RESULATION Glass Mineral Wool recycling facility at its Visé site in Belgium. The plant will convert the scrap into secondary raw material glass cullet needed to make new Glass Mineral Wool.
In addition, the company is constantly in contact with potential recycling partners to find new solutions to reuse scraps of our products and is examining new ways to collate its production waste data.
2020 was a record year for safety with the company’s Total Recordable Incident Rate (TRIR) reduced from 8.2 in 2019 to 6.4.
As a result, Knauf Insulation recalibrated its 2025 goal and committed to bring the target date forward by two years and achieve a maximum TRIR rate of 5.0 by 2023.
2021 saw more major steps forward. Safety improved across the group to 5.5 supported by a doubling of hazard spotting tours, safety observations and safety dialogues.
In addition, the company’s HSE initiated a new safety campaign ‘It’s Up To Us’ in 2022 that focused on greater awareness of risk, because as Group HSE Lead EMEA & APAC Philippe Coune pointed out: “We can never afford to be complacent.”
Emissions remain stable
Embodied carbon is the CO2 generated at every stage of a products’ life cycle from the sourcing of materials to ultimate disposal.
And, in line with Knauf Insulation’s For A Better World sustainability strategy, the company has committed to reducing embodied carbon by 15% by 2025.
In 2021 embodied carbon figures remained stable and at the same level as 2020.
However, the impact of major initiatives has still to be felt. The company has been investing in finding more renewable energy sources for electricity.
For example, the carbon intensity of electricity in 2022 will decrease following the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates for electricity for plants with the biggest carbon impact and increased installation of solar panels across the company.
Knauf Insulation is constantly reviewing low carbon possibilities including renewable energy and alternative fuels and assessing their business viability and compatibility.
Furthermore, the company now has a forensic view of the areas where it can cut carbon using internationally recognised Greenhouse Gas Protocol standards.
The company’s new dashboard allows for the analysis of the carbon impact of individual plants and the identification of specific carbon hotspots to enable targeted action to tackle scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
Knauf Insulation’s For A Better World sustainability strategy is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations with a specific focus on the 10 highlighted on the left. The SDGs are described by the UN as the “world’s best plan to build a better world for people and the planet by 2030”. Knauf Insulation is also a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. The company commits to align its strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.
Knauf Insulation's For A Better World key targets and progress
These figures relate to Knauf Insulation, part of the Knauf Group, and are based on the data for Europe, Middle East and Asia (EMEA & APAC) from 2021 and activities from 2021 and 2022. For accuracy we may amend previous figures.