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Plastwool® - insulation for the future

Denne idé er en del af The Circular Construction Challenge – Rethink Waste

30. september 2018


What makes the solution circular?

Reused and upcycled plastic waste transformed into sustainable insulation. The insulation will be reused 100 percent and thereby an alternative cradle to cradle solution. In short, a transformation of a low-priced abundance waste product that’s transformed and upcycled into a high-quality sustainable insulation product.  

Which type of waste does the solution reduce?

We estimate most plastic types (PET, HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP og PS*) can all be reused and transformed into Plastwool®. Especially plastic from households which also links well into local municipalities public service as well as overall political strategies and EU 2020 goals.

*PET: Polyethylene terephthalate, HDPE (also referred to as PE-HD): High-density polyethylene, PVC (also referred to as V) Polyvinyl chloride, LDPE (also known as PE-LD): Low-density polyethylene, PP: Polypropylene.

How large is the waste fraction that you reduce?

Zooming in on DK and according to www.genanvend.mst.dk (2015 numbers) plastic garbage amounts yearly to more than 322.000 tonnes out of an overall of approx. 500.000 tonnes overall raw material.    

318,000 tonnes of plastic waste was generated in 2011. 143,000 tonnes were plastic packaging households, of which only 15,000 tonnes were mechanically recycled. The rest was energy utilized via combustion. By 2014, the total amount of plastic waste has risen to 323,000 tonnes. Alone the 221,000 tons of plastic, which burns annually and the 130,000 tonnes of plastic waste, as per year exported, indicates strongly that there are great opportunities for increasing the recycling rate of plastic. 

According to the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) and different studies looking into reuse of plastic, they all points in the direction of a business potential. Especially recycling and recycling of raw materials in the construction industry has a great potential because the sector accounts for 40 percent of Denmark's resource consumption and 30 percent of waste production. 

Looking into the timing aspect a new study on circular economics in the construction industry, also made by DTI, where they have interviewed leaders in 359 Danish companies shows that every fifth company in the construction industry expect that more than half of their building materials will be recycled materials over the next 4-5 years.

Every other company in the construction arena are looking into circular economics. For example, there may be an expectation of using a large proportion of recycled materials, thinking in recycling in the design of new products, components or buildings, or using tools for documenting the quality of recycled materials. It is especially in companies that manufacture building materials and in architectural and consulting companies that circular circuits are thought. They are companies who can seize the circular economy and contribute to that building materials are more reusable in future construction.
The survey includes companies that manufacture building materials, contractors, construction companies or demolition companies, as well as architects and consulting engineers. The results of the analysis are representative of companies with 15 to 1,000 employees who are involved in construction in Denmark.

Zooming out on a global as well as looking at an EU perspective - global plastics production grew from 1.5 million tonnes (Mt) per annum in 1950 to 245 Mt in 2008, with 60 Mt4 in Europe alone. Production during the last 10 years equaled production during the whole of the 20th century combined. It is estimated (under a business as usual scenario) that 66.5 Mt6 of plastic will be placed on the EU market in 2020 and global plastic production could triple by 2050. Plastic waste In the European Union (EU 27), it is estimated that around 25 Mt of plastic waste was generated in 2008. Of this 12.1 Mt (48.7%) was landfilled while 12.8 Mt (51.3%) went to recovery, and only 5.3 Mt (21.3%) was recycled. While a projection to 2015 assumes an overall increase of 30 % in the level of mechanical recycling (from 5.3 Mt to 6.9 Mt), landfilling and incineration with energy recovery are expected to remain the predominant waste management pathways. Plastic production is going up with GDP and an associated overall increase in the generation of plastic waste between 2008 and 2015 of 5.7 Mt (23%). This is largely driven by a 24% rise in the packaging sector and is part of an unbroken trend of increasing plastic waste in Europe. In the absence of improved product design and improved waste management measures, plastic waste will increase in the EU as production increases. Trends observed in the EU are likely to be stronger in fast-growing economies like India, China, Brazil and Indonesia, but also in developing countries. The world's population is forecast to grow by 790 million every decade and may reach over 9 billion by 2050 with a new middle class of around 2 billion. This is likely to increase demand for plastic and the amount of plastic waste worldwide.

How much can you reduce this fraction?

Zooming in on DK and the yearly 323.000 tonnes plastic waste we expect a potential reduction of more than 98 % can be reused and upcycled. The reason for the high percentage links into the fact that almost of plastic fractions can be used in the transformation and can even be mixed fractions because the Plastwool insulation will be contained in the construction until it’s removed and once again reused and upcycled for a 2nd. generation of Plastwool®.

The last 2 % links to plastic that disappears in nature as well as plastic that is deposited in special facilities.

Global and EU numbers need to be investigated more but the numbers are astronomical.

How big is the upcycled part?

More than 90 percent of most plastic types (PET, HDPE, PVC, LDPE, PP og PS) can be reused and transformed into Plastwool®. Our first focus will be PET and rPET.

Why is this type of waste fraction particularly important to reduce?

Plastic is made of oil, which is an expensive and sought-after natural resource. There is a lot of energy used when the oil must be transformed into plastic. When you recycle the plastic, you save both the oil and the energy needed to be used to process the oil. And thus you also save the atmosphere for unnecessary CO2 emissions approx. It takes 2 kilos of oil to make 1 kilo of pure plastic.

At the same time, recycling of plastics will cause a significant climate saving. This is because, when recycling, emissions are saved from the combustion of the plastic (but loses energy production from here) and avoids environmental costs from the production of new plastic. At the same time, the environmental costs of reprocessing the collected plastic are relatively small.

Danish Waste Association has in 2011 together with DAKOFA, SDU, DTU and several members of the Danish waste industry prepared a guidance for CO2 inventories in the waste industry. Here CO2 enters emissions and winnings at the recycling of plastic waste. The gain by moving plastic waste from waste incineration for recycling is estimated at approx. 1,500 kg of CO2 per tonnes recycled PE waste and approx. 1.750 kg CO2 per tonnes recycled PET.

A report from the Nordic Council of Ministers has carried out the same assessment with a conclusion of a potential savings of 2,700 kg CO2 per tonnes of plastic waste.

EU has a 50 % (at least) reduction goal by 2020.

How big is the CO2-reduction of your solution compared to a conventional approach?

Kindly refer to exhibit A with different Plastwool® examples.

Kindly refer to exhibit B table 1, 2 and 3 for different energy and energy density comparisons.

Kindly refer to exhibit C with an overall solution visualization of the insulation product as well as the overall value chain including the production steps.

On top of non-extraction of new raw earth material (due to reuse and upcycle of plastic waste) comes a production line that due to much lower energy consumption can be powered solely by green energy. This will take the CO2 production footprint to a minimum 3x lover level compared to i.e. Rockwool. Rocks melt at 700 degrees. Plastic melts at 260 degrees.

With plummeting solar costs the production could eventually reach energy neutrality. To an example of where solar is headed the 2.42 cents/kWh deal signed in Abu Dhabi is the lowest unsubsidized cost per kWh ever signed anywhere in the world. And with the anticipated convergences of machine learning, quantum computing, and materials science, exponential improvements in solar panel materials will only accelerate.



What is the visionary aim of the solution?

Democratize access to sustainable insulation for earthlings.

“Plastwool® are innovative products and solutions based on reused and upcycled plastic waste to support the relevant sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world”.

What makes the solution new or even radical?

An alternative cradle to cradle approach facing and dealing with a wicked human dilemma. Plastic is a relatively new material which went into industrial production only in 1907. It now pervades industrial and consumer goods, and modern life is unthinkable without it. At the same time the characteristics that make plastic so useful, such as its durability, lightweight and low cost, also make its disposal problematic. It’s a waste challenge that can be reduced but also a material and waste challenge that will not go away any time soon due to its different affordances.

How does the solution differ from other solutions on the market?

Green production of insulation using, reducing and upcycling of plastic waste.

Copy paste of known production methods from Rockwool factories but adjusted to an alternative melting and pressing process producing different sizes of Plastwool® bats which corresponds to market standards today, so they can be used, in traditional constructions.


Value creation

What value do you create for the user, the planet and society as a whole?

Using, reducing and upcycling one of the biggest waste fractions in the world, and transforming it into sustainable insulation.

There are not only challenges but also opportunities arising from the better management of plastic waste. Although plastic is a fully recyclable material, only a small fraction of plastic waste is at present recycled. Enhanced recycling would contribute to the aims of the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe adopted in 2011 and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and imports of raw materials and fossil fuels. Appropriately designed measures to recycle plastic can also improve competitiveness and create new economic activities and jobs.

Who are the primary customers and users?

Construction industry both B2B and B2C (private builders).

What is the target market for the solution, for example geographically?

Denmark and the Nordics to begin with where the public plastic collection is similar. In a broader perspective and second phase other relevant mature countries in EU. In a third phase other relevant mature countries outside of Europe.    

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does the solution address?

11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and 12 (Responsible consumption and production)



What is the market potential of the solution?

The insulation marked is north of 190 billion DKK. and is expected to grow 8 % per year towards 2020.

How big a market does the new solution appeal to?

Needs to be more investigated. In comparison, the small Danish company Papiruld Danmark have a turnover of 27 million DKK and a market share of one percent. Rockwool translates annually to 14 billion DKK and has a market share of 60 percent in DK.

What does it take for the solution to reach the market and scale?

Test of plastic fractions and prototyping of the right fabrication equipment and lean processes including cut up and packaging

Build or install production line equipment in existing facilities

Distribution and sales  

Kindly refer to exhibit D with a tentative process plan.

How can new technologies help speed up the production or scale the solution?

AI and robotics (robotics combined with machine learning to increase effective sorting of plastic).


Who is contributing to the solution?

Triple helix constellation perhaps with the inclusion of applications in the search of different grant opportunities i.e. Horizon 2020 or other local Danish grants to increase R&D spending of fabrication facilities and fully automated plastic sorting.

Plastic collectors (public resource centers) i.e.  ARC in Copenhagen.

DTU/DTI – prototyping and test of production processes and scalability studies.

Collaborative partnerships i.e. plastic sorting companies and potential professional customers that can incorporate Plastwool® into their CSR strategies.

What partnerships are built around the solution, if any?

Partnerships with plastic collectors (public resource centers) i.e. ARC in Copenhagen to begin with who ships their plastic waste to i.e. Germany.

Supply chain partnerships with plastic sorting companies.

R&D partnerships with DTU/DTI concentrating around prototyping and test of various process and scalability studies. Analyzing and optimizing existing known processes from the production of Rockwool.

Evangelism in construction education and construction networks i.e. Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture as well as Danish Association of Architects.

Partnerships with resellers (major chains in building materials) both B2B and B2C.

Competencies to realize the Plastwool® idea.

The core team behind the idea already have access to a group of professional advisors from both higher academia, production professionals and tech competencies.

The core team will need high-level legal IPR knowledge to investigate potential patents and other IPR areas as well as the legal investigation to any unknown potential barriers. At the end of phase one (after proof of concept) the team will need executive sales and marketing experience building up a professional sales organization and relevant partnerships evangelizing Plastwool® to scale and reach its full potential.

Expectations of what the CCC program can do for the Plastwool® idea.

The CCC program can kick-start the execution of the idea with relevant additional competencies and smart smart money that can take the idea to the first level. With the right mix in a true 'triple helix' partnership and a proof of concept, the learnings and access to the CCC network and networks network shall lead to both grant applications and eventually professional funding to scale further. 


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Indsendt af Recyccon den 30. september 2018

Copyright © 2018 Recyccon. All rights reserved.