Protecting our ocean – a shared responsibility

Mirella Vitale
Mirella Vitale
June 1, 2023

Participating at the Blue Economy Summit in Milan offers a unique opportunity to share the actions we’re taking at ROCKWOOL to care for our ocean’s health.

Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL with the Impact League trophy

Building on our purpose to enrich modern living, we at ROCKWOOL understand that the ocean is inextricably linked to the health of all life on our planet. The ocean influences and stabilises the climate in multiple ways, for example by storing 90 percent of the heat from global warming. That is why we decided to include a focus on the ocean in our sustainability framework. After all, approximately 80 percent of marine and coastal pollution originates on land but affects the world’s largest ecosystem.

Protecting the lungs of the planet

According to the United Nations, the ocean generates 50 percent of the oxygen we need, absorbs 25 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions and captures 90 percent of the excess heat generated by these emissions[1]. So our ocean is not only ‘the lungs of the planet’ but also an important shield against the effects of climate change. Right now, many of these significant benefits are at risk. 

“The carbon we are releasing into the atmosphere drives ocean warming and acidification that destroy biodiversity, as well as sea level rise that threatens our coastlines”, according to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the release of the Second World Ocean Assessment last year. 

Coastal and vulnerable communities will bear the brunt of climate change’s devastating impacts. It is with these significant environmental threats in mind that ROCKWOOL has added SDG 14, Life Below Water, to the 10 SDGs we previously committed to, bringing the total number of prioritised SDGs to 11.

Protecting life below water

ROCKWOOL’s ongoing efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of our products and in our value chain is part of how we protect life below water. Anequally important component of our contribution to SDG 14 is our commitment to circularity.

By offering comprehensive recycling services in a growing number of countries, ROCKWOOL contributes to greater circularity in the construction sector, which in turn reduces the total amount of waste that potentially ends up in our waterways. We can also reduce waste by increasing the use of easily recyclable materials such as stone wool where it can replace other materials such as plastic foam insulation. Since 40 percent of the world’s population lives in coastal zones, it matters how we build new buildings and renovate old ones and what we do with the resulting construction waste.

Water management within our factories further supports this goal of reducing freshwater use and ensuring there is no process wastewater discharge into the environment. At many of our sites, we recycle process water in a closed-loop system, while at others, the water is treated at municipal wastewater treatment stations. Either way, most of the water evaporates as part of the production process.

Protecting our ocean through sports and positive partnerships

Another way we help protect our ocean is through ROCKWOOL’s sponsorship of the Denmark SailGP team. It is much more than just a great branding opportunity for us,  it is also an opportunity to make a sustainability difference. In 2021, SailGP launched the Impact League, with the goal of becoming the world’s most sustainable and purpose-driven sport.

At every event, the Impact League leader board scores each SailGP team for their positive actions to reduce their environmental footprint. The winner of the Impact League is crowned beside the Season Champion and earns valuable funding for its purpose partner. In 2023, the Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL was the winner of Impact League trophy, earning USD 100 000 for our partner, One Ocean Foundation.

Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL with the Impact League trophy

In 2022, ROCKWOOL selected the One Ocean Foundation as our purpose partner.
Backed by an independent scientific committee and working with a range of institutions, research centres and universities, One Ocean Foundation aims to accelerate solutions to ocean issues. As a land-based company whose products are made from fully recyclable stone wool based on volcanic rock, we might seem far removed from the ocean. But the Foundation makes it very clear that all industries – and not just those in coastal locations – are exerting negative pressures on the ocean. We have begun collaborating on several initiatives, including reducing the carbon and plastic footprint of the team’s activities. The Danish team will also collect a series of plankton samples to create a first-ever ocean health map of the key SailGP venues. The samples will be analysed to monitor the real-time health of the ocean at each location. 

Through committing to SDG 14, sponsoring the Denmark SailGP team and partnering with One Ocean Foundation, we can help spread awareness about the importance of the ocean, understand our marine environments better and identify solutions to meet future challenges. We’re eager to play our part in protecting our ocean and encourage other companies to do the same.