Closing the loop: Kingspan upcycles recovered ocean PET in support of Ecoalf Foundation's mission to encourage circularity

12 December 2019 Kingspan Insulated Panels
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Every year, 640,000 tonnes of abandoned fishing gear is dumped in the ocean, making up the majority of all plastic polluting our seas.[1] The impact of discarded debris like this on both marine life and our climate is catastrophic.

This year, Ecoalf Foundation, a non-profit organisation promoting a circular economy, has removed 150 tonnes of waste from our oceans, as part of its pioneering clean-up initiative Upcycling the Oceans. This is the foundation’s latest project to remove marine waste, and give a second life to recovered debris where possible.

At Kingspan, we share the same circular vision and our recent three-year partnership with Ecoalf Foundation is an ambitious element of our wider sustainability strategy, Planet Passionate.

Kingspan’s partnership with Ecoalf Foundation, launched in March 2019, is to support the expansion of the foundation’s ocean clean up initiative and help close the loop by using ocean PET from the project. PET recovered by the Foundation from the Spanish seas will be added to the manufacturing chain for Kingspan’s insulation products at its site in Barcelona. In the future, we hope our support will help to accelerate this project further, and aim to replicate the activity on a global scale with four more similar projects.

Of the 150 tonnes of waste which will be recovered each year by Ecoalf Foundation’s network of local fishermen, about 10% is PET, which Kingspan will then upcycle. Supporting initiatives like this demonstrates our commitment to end-to-end recyclability.

At Kingspan, we are already participating in the circular economy. Last year, through household and commercial recycling channels, we recycled 256 million bottles into raw materials for our insulation products. We are on track to make this 500 million by 2023 and then one billion by 2025, increasing our current use of recycled plastic fourfold. This will drive further recycling and upcycling across the business, while reducing the impact of PET on the environment.

Javier Goveneche, President of EcoAlf Foundation said: “Ecoalf Foundation aims to give marine debris a second life and demonstrate the possibilities of a circular economy. Until now, plastics bottles were only being converted into textile products, however thanks to this collaboration with Kingspan, plastic is now being upcycled into building material. We trust that this will be the first of many partnerships to close the loop on plastic pollution.”
Establishing a circular economy
At Kingspan, we will soon be launching our 10-year Planet Passionate sustainability programme. Our partnership with Ecoalf Foundation reinforces this strategy and our key impact areas, fostering our commitment to finding and implementing responsible ways to reduce waste at all points in the supply chain. With the construction industry contributing 30% of all the global waste that goes into landfill, we take our role in helping to establish a circular economy very seriously. Later this month, we’re set to announce our 2030 global targets in full, along with the launch of programmes that will help keep our oceans clean for future generations.

Progressing towards a more sustainable future
Our recycling and ocean clean up commitments complement Kingspan’s broader goal to accelerate the world towards a more sustainable future. We are already seeing strong progress towards this vision from other industry initiatives - the Ocean Clean Up project recently unveiled its invention to tackle the 1,000 most polluting rivers, responsible for about 80% of ocean plastic pollution, before the end of 2025.

Kingspan is proud to be helping keep our oceans clean, while contributing to the creation of a low-carbon, circular, safe and healthy future built environment. We are already developing products which are reusable and recyclable, as part of our circular economy ambition, but tackling global issues such as plastic pollution and climate change is challenging us as a business to further adapt, collaborate and innovate. Planet Passionate is our pledge to accept this challenge. You can find out more about our new Planet Passionate commitments here.

[1] Greenpeace report November 2019: Ghost Gear: The Abandoned Fishing Nets Haunting Our Oceans'
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