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 mains 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 building contents.[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 natural? How long will they last? Do they post potential health or environmental risks now or in the future? Can they be reused or 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”. Let’s start with the first question; whether the materials used in the construction are natural. Being made from volcanic rock, stone wool is most certainly natural. It’s also 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. Or, think of it this way, our total annual volcanic stone consumption is less than 1 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 products have retained their insulation characteristics and properties for more than 55 years.[3] As a natural material, 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, 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 over more than 55 years.

Our commitment to circularity

The final question, whether the building materials can be reused or recycled, is very much at the heart of our business. Perfectly complementing the transition towards a circular economy, our stone wool products can be endlessly recycled without losing any performance.

And we’re doing more. To make sure that recycling happens, Rockcycle® – our comprehensive recycling service – is available in 17 countries now. By 2030, our goal is that it will be available in 30 countries. By recycling our own waste and that of other industries, we reduce the overall waste going to landfills as well as 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 tons of CO2 by 2050.[5] That’s the equivalent of saving the CO2 generated by almost 400 million cars in one year!

Stone wool is circular by nature, and helping the construction industry to reduce waste is an important part of “By Nature”, our recent marketing and brand positioning campaign. Our goal is to convince stakeholders that ROCKWOOL stone wool is the responsible choice also when it comes to the environment, fire safety, health, and wellbeing.  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.

To explore “By Nature” further and watch our video, please visit By Nature


[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] FIW, Durability Project Mineral Wool (2016), p. 14

[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).