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The world-first facility to turn glass into insulation

United Kingdom – Knauf Insulation and Veolia have opened a high-tech glass recycling facility in St Helens near the UK city of Liverpool. Each year, some 60 000 tonnes of used glass bottles and jars will now be given a second life as energy-saving insulation materials.

The ‘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. State-of-the-art machinery includes vibrating screens for size sorting, magnets to extract ferrous materials and eddy-current separators to remove non-ferrous metals.

According to Knauf, the volumes equate to more than 350 million bottles thrown out on a yearly basis. With a £10 million (more than Euro 11 million) investment and a decade-long commitment from Knauf Insulation, both companies claim to be demonstrating their dedication to sustainable and circular manufacturing.

‘We have been using recycled glass in our manufacturing process for some time already,’ comments John Sinfield, managing director at Knauf Insulation Northern Europe. ‘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.’

Estelle Brachlianoff, senior executive vice president at Veolia UK & Ireland, hails the new facility as ‘a vote of confidence in our technology and the quality of cullet we produce’.

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’, she adds.

Veolia would like this ‘first-of-its-kind partnership’ to ‘pave the way for others’, it adds.

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