Less wasteful living

Mirella Vitale
Mirella Vitale
February 13, 2023

The construction industry is one of the world’s largest consumers of raw materials and sources of waste – and buildings are a major reason why. It’s time to carefully consider the building materials we choose.

One of the main reasons that the construction industry creates so much waste is because buildings have traditionally been designed with little thought given to future renovation or demolition

In particular, there has been a lack of consideration about what should happen to the materials when that time comes, and what impact their disposal may have on our health and environment. In fact, only 20-30 percent of construction and demolition waste is recycled or reused, which is often due to poor design and lack of information on the contents of the building.[1]

Fortunately, that is changing now.

Building owners and occupants, architects, insurance companies, local authorities, and many others are considering the entire lifecycle of a building and asking important questions when considering building materials, such as: Are the materials used abundant, or scarce? How long will the materials last? Do they pose potential health or environmental risks now or in the future? And can they be recycled in the future?

With stone wool, there is nothing to worry about

When it comes to our stone wool building materials, the answer to all these questions is a resounding “yes”.

To begin with, stone wool is made from volcanic rock, an abundant raw material. In fact, the Earth produces 38 000 times more stone through volcanic activity than we use annually to produce stone wool. Said another way,  our total annual volcanic stone consumption is less than one percent of what is made every year by the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.[2]

How long will the building material last?

Well, stone wool is as durable and long-lasting as the rocks it is made from. Tests from old construction sites show that our stone wool insulation products have retained their insulation characteristics and properties for more than 65 years.[3]

Stone wool is completely safe and poses no threat to our health or environment. ROCKWOOL stone wool fibres are proven to be safe to manufacture, install and live with. They also comply with the European REACH regulation and do not have any health-related classifications. Our insulation products do not contain flame retardants and blowing agents, and are proven not to have a negative impact on the indoor environment[4]. In fact, the safety of ROCKWOOL stone wool is documented in hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles.

Our commitment to circularity

The final question – Can the building materials be recycled? – is very much at the heart of our business. Perfectly complementing the transition towards a circular economy, our stone wool  can be endlessly recycled without losing any of its performance traits.

And to make sure that recycling happens with greater frequency, Rockcycle® – our comprehensive recycling service – is now available in 19 countries. By 2030, our goal is that it will be available in a minimum of 30 countries. 

By recycling our own waste and that of other industries, we reduce the overall waste going to landfills and our dependency on virgin raw materials. At the same time, we are working with authorities in these countries to encourage more recycling and less landfill and other waste disposal methods. After all, if the construction and demolition industries became more circular in their approach to waste, it could save more than two billion tonnes of CO2 by 2050.[5] That’s the equivalent of saving the CO2 generated by almost 400 million cars in one year.

When it comes to designing and building our most important buildings, whether it’s our homes, our schools or care facilities, the kind of materials we choose matters. Not just to the performance of the building today, but its impact on the future.


[1] Journal of Building Engineering, 2019, “Data and stakeholder management framework for the implementation of BIM-based material passports”, M.Honicet et al.

[2] Own calculation, based on TW Dahl, et al. (2011), International Geology Review (Volume 53 Numbers 7–8, June–July 2011) ‘The human impact on natural rock reserves using basalt, anorthosite, and carbonates as raw materials in insulation products’. Source link Source: Oregon State University, Volcano World, “Eruption Rates”

[3] Danish Technological Institute, Testing ROCKWOOL Insulation from CPH Airport Hangar 4, (Jan 2023), Alexander V. Soupron and Christian N. Nielsen. 

[4] Salthammer Formaldehyde study (2019); examples of indoor air quality labels.

[5] Applying principles of circularity to the built environment could reduce global CO2 emissions from construction and demolition of buildings by 2.1 billion tonnes, by 2050, making them vital to reaching net zero (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2021).