New Use for Insulated Panel Production Waste

Finding new uses for construction products that would otherwise be destined for landfill or incineration, while also reducing carbon emissions, is critical to a circular and net-zero carbon future for the built environment.

As part of Kingspan’sPlanet Passionate Program, we have a target to be a zero waste to landfill company by 2030.

We are already making progress against this ambitious target; our 2022 Planet Passionate report highlights that we have made a 42% reduction in waste to landfill since 2020. This target is driving innovative ways to reduce our production waste, which is helping us to understand how these materials might potentially be used in the future when they are removed from buildings.

Our Brazilian business has developed a new product called EcoPIR, using remanufactured production waste from scrap PIR insulated panels. This significantly reduces waste sent to landfill. Due to the introduction of this new process, our site at Araquari has recently achieved zero waste to landfill certification from the Zero Waste International Alliance.

Innovation is constant

In Brazil, it is common when you have a multi-floor development to use concrete or ceramic blocks that form the structural elements of each floor slab prior to the concrete pour. The blocks connect like a large jigsaw and hold the poured concrete floor above. This process has been used by builders for over a hundred years. In the past 30 years the ceramic blocks have been replaced with expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam blocks.

There are multiple benefits of the EPS product v the older ceramic block technology. The material is lighter which reduces costs during transportation and increases speed of handling on site while enabling a lighter overall structure.

Now the new EcoPIR product from Kingspan Isoeste provides another advancement on the EPS product.

A new solution for production waste

PIR insulation foam is used in the high-performance insulated panels manufactured by Kingspan Isoeste in Brazil. These PIR insulated panels offer superior thermal efficiency when compared with other insulation cores such as mineral fiber.

Today, PIR waste from production and building demolition processes typically goes to either landfill or incineration. Around the world at Kingspan, we have several initiatives using PIR production waste as a proxy, that demonstrate potential uses in new products for this material.

The new EcoPIR product in Kingspan Isoeste is one such initiative, where production waste from our Araquari plant in the state of Santa Catarina goes through a process to separate the steel liners from the PIR foam. The steel is then purchased by companies that can recycle the steel.

Siegfried Wagner Jorge, Marketing Director of Kingspan Isoeste, said: “We take the PIR and grind it into small particles that we mix with a bonding agent to create the final EcoPIR product through a compression process to achieve the desired result.

“There are multiple benefits deriving from this process. The main one being we no longer have PIR waste in the manufacturing process as we are now able to use 100% of the material that would have been sent to landfill. Through this initiative, we have shown that it is possible to remanufacture production waste and take it through a new process to provide a valid route and new product life.”

The finished EcoPIR product can then be used to support concrete floor slabs in multi-floor buildings, in turn replacing EPS block and ceramic block along with precast slab and precast EPS.

As an organization, Kingspan is actively researching a range of options to help keep materials and products that reach the end of their service life and cannot be reused, circulating within the built environment economy. We aim to do this through regional and local partnerships and the deployment of in-house mechanical and chemical recycling facilities.

This is just one of many initiatives that we have in progress which are helping us to better understand potential onwards uses for PIR materials.

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Term of the Day

Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) is a method to compare various greenhouse gases based on their global warming potential. One metric ton of a greenhouse gas is converted to the equivalent number of metric tons of CO2 emissions with the same global warming potential.

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