The European Green Deal, which involves a ‘Renovation Wave’ in the European Union for public and private buildings, means that there will be an emphasis on ensuring that Europe’s buildings are energy efficient and sustainable. This Brussels policy drive means that the insulation materials used in Europe’s buildings will be under the spotlight this year and already this has meant a closer look at some of the more commonly used insulation, such as the synthetic mineral wool.
Mineral wool, or Manmade Vitreous Fibres (MMVF), as the material is also known, has been under scrutiny after the Greens tabled an amendment to the opinion that the Environment and Health Committee is working on to inform the Industry Committee of the European Parliament (ITRE report). The proposed amendment, which was submitted by Jutta Paulus MEP, seeks to insert the words “recyclable” when describing stone wool, a form of mineral wool. The proposed amendment is provoking questions about whether the material really is recyclable and also whether European countries should even be seeking to use and then recycle a material over which there appear to be some health concerns, including skin conditions and the serious respiratory condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
With regard to mineral wool’s recyclability, there appear to be concerns and reservations about whether it is truly recyclable. The mineral wool insulation manufacturers association (Eurima) state that recycling options for mineral wool exist only “in some countries, for example in the brick industry or recycling offered by a mineral wool manufacturer”. German sources suggest that the material is only theoretically recyclable or recyclable to a limited extent. Specific recycling infrastructure would still need to be established.
Given the concerns over both health conditions and also whether the material is in fact recyclable, there is likely to be further debate before mineral wool is used even further during Europe’s renovation wave.