Owens Corning: Some Circular-Economy Initiatives From 2021

May 19, 2022 10:00 AM ET
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From large-scale enterprises to smaller on-site campaigns, Owens Corning sites around the world are taking steps to contribute to the overall circular economy and achieve our sustainability goals. The following examples demonstrate our commitment and serve to inspire us at every level.

  • Liversedge, U.K. In February 2021, this Composites plant introduced a new process in which rolls that previously would have gone to waste can now be sent to a thirdparty company, which will use them in road construction and in the creation of children’s play areas. While this process is still being refined, it marks an excellent f irst step toward closing the loop on waste. We anticipate expanding the program in 2022, as shipping difficulties related to COVID-19 are resolved.
  • Parainen, Finland Our stone wool plant has taken another step forward in reducing waste with the installation of dewatering equipment in May 2021. This equipment reduced moisture content in wet and filtered waste to 12%, which enables the dewatered waste to be fed back into the electrical melting furnace.
  • Joplin, Missouri, U.S. In July, this Owens Corning mineral wool plant entered into an agreement with the Cherokee County Road and Bridge Department in Missouri. Through this arrangement, the county will be diverting byproduct materials from the landfill and using them in the maintenance of roads throughout the region. This initiative has the potential to reduce the site’s waste-to-landfill by 95% or more.
  • Wabash, Indiana, U.S. Our plant sends byproduct to 10X Engineered Materials, which owns and operates a recycling facility designed specifically to process our plant’s dragline shot to be used as sandblasting material for the abrasives market. After delays related to COVID-19, the company’s sales have begun to dramatically increase. In 2021, the U.S. Navy began using 10X materials for use on a submarine base.
  • Changzhou, China The technical fabrics plant here provides glass waste to a third-party company, which uses it to make glass reinforcements for a variety of composite applications. The company is also evaluating other Owens Corning Fabrics plants’ waste streams for use in their operations.
  • Fairburn, Georgia, U.S. This insulation facility uses over 100 million pounds of recycled glass each year. Among the sources for this glass is a third-party recycling company, which provides the plant with glass collected from apartment complexes, bars, restaurants, and stadiums throughout the Atlanta, Georgia, area.

Going Forward

In many ways, our commitment to the circular economy model is at the center of our sustainability journey. It’s connected to our waste management strategies, our approach to product innovation and stewardship, and ultimately our plans for sustainable growth.

We have begun a pilot program to build capability for recycling within our Composites business with the aim of enabling circularity. We are also investigating the potential in processes such as chemical recycling, which could prove valuable as we try to perform tasks such as separating fibers from resins and chemicals. This level of investment demonstrates our dedication to this bold — and very necessary — rethinking of the way we do business.

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