Veolia to Build £10m High Grade Glass Recycling Plant in St Helens, UK
By: Ben Messenger

Veolia has teamed up with UK mineral wool insulation manufacturer, Knauf Insulation, in a long term contract to supply high quality recycled glass from packaging in St. Helens, Merseyside.

The deal will see the construction of a state-of-the-art glass cullet processing facility next to Knauf’s manufacturing plant. The facility will be constructed and operated by Veolia on land owned by Knauf Insulation.

The facility will take glass from Veolia’s wide portfolio and process it to a ‘furnace-ready’ quality. It will provide Knauf Insulation with a stable supply of high quality recycled glass from packaging, which is a key raw material used to manufacture energy saving insulation products.
The new facility will dry and refine tens of thousands of tonnes of glass into a ‘furnace ready cullet’, a recycled standard of glass that has been cleaned and crushed into small fragments. The cullet is then fed into a furnace where it is melted and spun into glass mineral wool in order to manufacture energy saving insulation products.

This end-to-end process supports the strategies of both companies in regards to sustainability, recycling and preserving scarce raw materials. The facility will be built by the end of this year.

According to Veolia this ‘furnace ready’ recycled glass produces less CO2 and replaces the need to use virgin raw materials from quarries.

Furthermore, the process itself is said to use less energy than traditional methods of manufacturing mineral wool insulation, with the associated energy saving generated from recycling a single glass bottle equal to powering a 100-watt light bulb for almost an hour.

“This venture with Knauf Insulation provides a closed loop solution for glass packaging from our Material Recovery Facilities,” explained Estelle Brachlianoff, senior executive vice-president at Veolia UK & Ireland. 

“This will save raw materials, lessen energy demand, cut CO2 emissions and reduce the amount of materials going to landfill,” she continued. “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.”

John Sinfield, Managing Director at Knauf Insulation Northern Europe, adds: “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”. 
The £10m investment by Veolia is expected to create 18 permanent jobs in St Helens and will provide Knauf Insulation with a stable supply of high quality recycled glass.

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