Executive Summary

ROCKWOOL is and has been committed to taking responsibility in shaping a prosperous, sustainable and circular economy. ROCKWOOL is upcycling secondary materials from other industries, recycling its own waste in closed loops and designing products for long life and indefinite recycling. ROCKWOOL uses a significant amount of non-virgin materials and fuels to produce stone wool products, the majority of which are recyclable without loss of material value. However, most of these materials are not recycled or reused at the end-of-life. This is a known problem faced throughout the value chain of the construction sector. The majority of waste material from construction and demolition sites end up in landfills.

Consequently, only a small share of the materials in ROCKWOOL's value chain can be considered 'circular materials' based on the circularity metric put forth by Circle Economy. In this metric, circular materials describe the share of materials in products that is continuously cycled: Cycled materials come from non-virgin sources in the first place and are reused, recycled or safely returned to the biosphere at the end of products' life time.

ROCKWOOL has set ambitious goals to improve its circularity by reducing the amount of production waste going to landfill by 85% and by offering recycling services for its products in 30 countries by 2030. Reaching these goals is an important step and will significantly increase the share of circular materials in ROCKWOOL'S products.

ROCKWOOL's value chain has the potential to become fully circular. But ROCKWOOL cannot achieve this alone. The help and collaboration of stakeholders across the value chain is required. In this report, we have identified a range of levers for the ROCKWOOL value chain to bridge the circularity gap.

  1. Increasing the use of non-virgin and regenerative materials to decrease impacts from extraction and use of virgin materials and fossil resources. The most powerful levers for this were identified in increasing the share of non-virgin raw materials and shifting to renewable energy sources in production.
  2. Developing more high-value and circular product applications by taking advantage of the durability of stone wool products. By developing high-value products that adhere to principles of circular design, ROCKWOOL can facilitate reuse and refurbishment as well as high-value recycling. Co-creating products with partners will allow integration in modular building elements in adaptive buildings. New ownership models can be explored as well, but pose a challenge for long-lasting products.
  3. Reclaiming more waste from the construction sector to reduce the share of waste landfilled and facilitate the use of more non-virgin materials in production. Promising levers for this are identified in the current goal of expanding the network of recycling services and supporting the development of more advanced recycling infrastructure for mineral and stone wool demolition waste.