In the current world, greater effects of pollution and environmental degradation have contributed to increased levels of environmental health hazards, inefficiencies and increased costs of energy and fuel. To curb these negative effects from soaring higher, measures have been put in place to ensure working towards the building of a ‘green’ and sustainable environment. In the insulation industry, that measure is the optimal use of materials that can be recycled in the manufacture of quality insulators.
Examples of recycled materials for insulation include;
I. Cellulose Insulation
Recycled from old newspapers, cellulose is the considered to be among the most successful insulation materials to be produced. More than 85% of cellulose is from recycled material making it sustainable and very eco-friendly.
Cellulose provides resistance to fire, moisture and vermin. It also provides good sound insulation, not forgetting its efficient and perfect thermal properties.
II. Mineral Fiber Insulation
Rock Wool and Slag Wool are blended to form Mineral Fiber Insulation. In Mineral Fiber Insulation Material, Slag wool is used in a larger percentage and is a by-product of Coke and Iron. Had it not been for recycling, Slag wool would have been disposed thereby increasing land fill problems. In recent years, more than ten billion pounds of Slag wool has been recycled in the manufacture of Mineral Fiber Insulation.
Mineral Wool is mostly used in commercial buildings and for industrial applications. It provides sound insulation, its non-combustible, easy to cut and shape and resistant to corrosion. Mineral wool is also resistant to fungi and mold.
III. Fiberglass Insulation
Fiberglass is a Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP). Fiberglass Insulation also called glass wool is manufactured fromrecycled scrap glass from scrape bottles. In the last ten years, according to research and statistics, almost ten billion pounds of scrape bottles (which is approximately 45% of total raw material) have undergone recycling to form fiberglass insulation boards.
Scrape bottle dumping has been greatly reduced due to recycling techniques employed in the manufacture of Fiberglass Insulation and this has greatly reduced the initially high levels of Environmental hazards in landfills.
During its manufacture, scrape glass is shredded then slur made by mixing it with water. The mixture is then passed in the ‘head box’ for draining and mixing with other chemicals for binding. It is then pressed and dried for the final quality product.
Fiberglass conserves up to 12 times the amount of energy used in its production when in thermal insulation. It also reduces energy costs up to 40%.
Fiberglass is also employed in the manufacture of automobile and aircraft bodies to slow down the spread of heat and sound to other parts/structures. It is also fire resistant.
IV. Ceiling Tiles
Ceiling Tiles are manufactured from scrap fiberglass. Instead of burying the material in a landfill, it is therefore put to a better use.
Statistics indicate that, in one manufacturing company, more than twelve million pounds of scrape fiberglass has undergone recycling to manufacture ceiling tiles. As a result, this quantity has made a significant impact in the reduction of carbon dioxide gas emission by 12 million kilograms. Additionally, landfill waste has been reduced by 25 million pounds, 13 million gallons of water conserved, more than 240 million of virgin raw materials saved and approximately 35 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity consumption saved. These statistics should inspire other companies into recycling so as to maintain a better, eco-friendly environment.
Ceiling tiles are tailored to customer budgets, are resistant to fire, mold and mildew and also have sound absorption properties.
V. Structural Building Blocks for Insulation
The best example of this type of building block is insulated concrete forms (ICFs) made from polystyrene (a consumer plastic form) and cement. Polystyrene takes a high percentage in this process thereby increasing the wall R-value to approximately 1.73 per inch.
A lot of tonnage of plastic form material has undergone recycling reducing the negative effects they could have had on the environment.
The following are some advantages of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs);
- Sustainability; are long lasting and material used can be recycled for better new quality products.
- Security; offers resistance to fire, earthquakes and deadly wind.
- Energy saving; possesses superior thermal properties.
- Health; do not emit harmful gases or fumes are also safe to handle
- Cost; Insulated Concrete Forms are affordable.
- Labor; low impact labor since they are light in weight.
- Resistance; to mold, mildew and fire.
VI. Recycled Denim
Another name for Recycled Denim is Natural Cotton Fiber. It is manufactured from waste cloth clippings of Denim and is commonly used in residential and commercial properties. It fits to roles of Mineral Wool and Fiber Glass i.e. used on ceiling joists, roof rafters among others.
Compared to other insulation materials, Recycled Denim offers the following benefits:
- Environmental friendly; recycled materials which could have otherwise been disposed to landfills are used. More than 200 tons of waste materials are recycled every month in one company alone to produce Cotton Fiber.
- Energy consumption; manufacture of Recycled Denim takes low energy compared to the other materials e.g. Fiberglass
- Health; very safe with no skin irritation and no respiratory tract irritation,
- Safety; fire resistant, doesn’t spread fire and not readily flammable. No carcinogens and doesn’t contain any toxic material.
- Interior Air Quality and Acoustics; Natural Cotton Fiber/Recycled Denim contains neither Formaldehyde nor organic compounds.Because of this; it provides better indoor air quality.Its indoor acoustics is rated to be more than 30% higher to those of other insulation materials. This ensures a peaceful, comfortable, and quiet interior.
- Thermal Performance; Recycled Denim provides excellent thermal performance with low energy and high HVAC
- It is Sustainable; since more than 80% of the material used in its manufacturing is recyclable.
- Safety; fire resistant, doesn’t spread fire and not readily flammable. No carcinogens and not a toxic material.
With the rising effects of global warming (which is as a result of emission of carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere), the rising costs of oil and fuel and an environment that is constantly undergoing degradation, recycling of material becomes the only cost effective way of saving on energy and maintaining an eco-friendly environment. LET US EMBRACE IT.
Check out this video for a great green idea for using recycled materials for insulation: