New £10m recycling facility turns glass into insulation

New £10m recycling facility turns glass into insulation

Companies hope new St Helens facility will provide template for further circular economy initiatives

The UK's circular economy received a major boost late last week as waste management giant Veolia and energy efficiency specialist Knauf Insulation jointly opened a major new glass recycling facility in St Helens.

The companies said the site represented a "world-first facility" that uses cutting-edge technology to "separate glass at a micro-level with exceptional accuracy, delivering an ultra-pure glass cullet".

The facility has the capacity to process over 60,000 tonnes of used glass bottles and jars - equivalent to over 350 million bottles a year - and turn it into recyclate material or cullet that can be used by Knauf to make insulation panels.

The facility is the result of a £10m investment and is backed by a 10 year commitment from Knauf Insulation that will secure glass supplies for its manufacturing plant. The company said the move would curb its use of virgin minerals and maximise its use of recyclate, while the proximity of the new facility would save approximately 375,000 miles of road journeys.

John Sinfield, managing director at Knauf Insulation Northern Europe, said the recycled material would help deliver insulation solutions that themselves "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," he said. "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."

His comments were echoed by Estelle Brachlianoff, senior executive vice-president at Veolia UK & Ireland, who said the project represented a "£10m investment in the UK green economy which is good for jobs, good for the community and good for the planet".

"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," she added. "It would be fantastic to see more key industry players follow Knauf Insulation and incorporate circular economy thinking into production."

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