Veolia to build £10m closed-loop glass recycling facility

Resource management firm Veolia has agreed a deal to construct and operate a state-of-the-art glass cullet processing facility in a closed-loop partnership with a UK wool insulation manufacturer.

The £10m facility in St Helens, Merseyside, will take glass from Veolia’s wide portfolio and process it to a ‘furnace-ready’ quality, providing Knauf Insulation’s manufacturing plant next door with tens of thousands of tonnes of high quality recycled glass from packaging.

Veolia has informed edie that carbon savings from the recycled glass are expected to be 3153KWh per tonne, with 0.39 tonnes of CO2 saved per tonne, compared with traditional methods of manufacturing mineral wool insulation.

“This venture with Knauf Insulation provides a closed-loop solution for glass packaging from our material recovery facilities,” Veolia UK & Ireland senior executive vice pesident Estelle Brachlianoff said.

“This will save raw materials, lessen energy demand, cut CO2 emissions and reduce the amount of materials going to landfill. It is set to be the first of its kind in the UK and represents a significant investment in circular thinking, new technology and jobs and will ensure we keep the highest quality of glass in circulation.”

Circular goals

The new facility will dry and refine the glass into a recycled standard that has been cleaned and crushed into small fragments. The cullet will then then be fed into a furnace where it is melted and spun into glass mineral wool in order to manufacture energy saving insulation products.

Commenting on the partnership, Knauf Insulation Northern Europe managing director John Sinfield said: “We are delighted to be working with Veolia on this project, which perfectly aligns our goals for sustainability and the circular economy. Given recent shortages impacting the construction sector, our customers can be reassured that we are working proactively upstream to further enhance the security of our supply.

“The construction of the new facility should also help grow the local economy through the creation of new jobs and the use of local firms to carry out the relevant construction work”. 

Veolia’s vision of achieving a closed-loop business has led to the company undergoing a series of innovative new processes, including the creation of a giant energy-from-waste (EfW) facility in Leeds.

The plant was opened in the same month that Veolia released a report which revealed that companies located in “strategically important” sectors in the UK are currently sitting on a £4bn “hidden mine” that can only be unlocked by transitioning to a circular economy.

Carbon capture

The new partnership with Knauf Insulation arrives days after Veolia signed a new partnership agreement with a global leader in low-cost carbon capture infrastructure for the large-scale rollout of a patented CO2 separation technology.

The deal with Carbon Clean Solutions Limited (CCSL) provides the two partners with an opportunity to reduce the impact of the greenhouse effect of industrial activities.

Veolia executive vice president of innovation & markets Laurent Auguste said: “With CCSL, we will mitigate CO2 emissions and enhance the prospects for the circular economy around carbon capture and its use by industry. It demonstrates Veolia’s commitment to co-create solutions to fight climate change.”

CCSL recently announced the successful commissioning of its flagship project in India, where a coal-fired power plant has become the site of the first industrial installation to re-use all its CO2 emissions. The project will ensure 60,000 metric tonnes of CO2 are captured each year and then converted into soda ash, a chemical compound that is commonly used in glassmaking. Privately financed, the site captures all the CO2 at a cost of £24 per metric tonne, half the cost of existing technology.

George Ogleby

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