LIFE IS.ECO Project
The project was carried out with the aim of creating an integrated system for the treatment and recovery of production scraps from fiberglass-based insulators as well as of post-consumption waste from bitumen membranes and mineral wool, finalized to the reintroduction of the recovered materials into their respective production processes.
To achieve this objective it was necessary to define sampling techniques and analysis of scraps and waste in order to determine whether the waste is hazardous or non-hazardous, and to check its physical characteristics for a better enhancement in the production cycle. These analyzes have shown that: about 80% of bitumen membranes are composed of a precious binder material (polymer-modified bitumen); and more than 90% of mineral insulators are composed of glass fibers. The project involved the recovery of production scrapes and waste and their enhancement, avoiding disposal in landfills, consistently with the provisions of the Framework Directive 2008/98/EC of November 19, 2008 which strengthened the principles of precaution and prevention in waste management.
The project had the objectives to:
- promote a management system of the production scraps from glass wool and bitumen-polymer membranes;
- recover a material considered waste (post-consumption waste from bitumen membranes and mineral wool), allowing their reuse in the production cycles of glass wool and bitumen membranes;
- verify the feasibility of adapting the production processes of mineral insulators and insulators of polymer-bitumen membranes to the treatment and reuse of their scraps and wastes;
- reduce the environmental impacts of the disposal of this waste in landfills.
Fasi del Progetto
The main phases were:
- Design of pilot plants for recovery and their licensing: The action involved the design of two pilot plants in Chieti and Vidalegno di Caravaggio (BG) for the recovery of production scraps (Vidalegno) and scraps and waste produced by third parties in Chieti, and obtaining authorizations from the relevant Bodies for their operation. For the Vidalengo plant, where mineral wool products are made, it was necessary to request the renewal of the existing Integrated Environmental Authorization, so as to ensure compliance with the requirements of the second part of the Leg. Decree n. 152 of 2006. During the renewal a project was submitted on the construction within the plant of a glass fiber flocs production system (recycled glass wool agglomerates with convenient size and geometry without contaminants) and on the renewal of the panel recovery cycle. For the Chieti site, where bitumen membranes are produced, the authorization process has been started pursuant to art. 208 of Leg. Decree 152 of 2006 (Single authorization for new waste disposal and recovery plants), with the presentation of a technical project. The site has been authorized to process numerous types of waste, including those characterized by the CER code 170302 "Non-hazardous bituminous mixtures" and 170604 "Non-hazardous insulating materials".
- Implementation of a waste transport and storage network through the involvement of key players to make recovery centers operational: the aim was to define and identify waste storage companies and bitumen-polymer membrane production plants that could have used the waste recovery centers of the Project. The action involved the organization of the transport service for the collection of waste from membrane retailers and the related optimization through the involvement of other actors in the process. The first step concerned the analysis of environmental legislation on waste in order to identify the requirements that the transport service provider has to fulfill (Registration in the national register of environmental managers for "category 4" foreseeing: authorization to transport concerned categories of CER, availability of roll-off containers, territorial jurisdiction). For some partners the presence of the authorization for the waste storage service has been verified, in order to evaluate the opportunity to create collection centers for bitumen-polymer membrane waste in the different Italian regions, so as to be able to transport the waste with optimized loads at the Chieti recovery center. The presence of authorized centers for the storage of waste has enabled the assessment of logistic scenarios for the creation of a network of authorized partners to whom producers of membrane waste could deliver their waste. In addition, in order to increase the number of waste disposers, a voucher system was implemented to be distributed to Saint Gobain customers in order to obtain a reduced tariff for the storage of bitumen-polymer membrane waste.
- Preparation of recovery centers and integration of recycling plants. The action made it possible to modify the cycles of the glass wool and bitumen membrane production processes at the centers of Vidalengo and Chieti, with the aim of ensuring the reuse of waste in production processes and the creation of new products. The Vidalengo recovery center was set up with new equipment capable of shredding glass wool scraps for its reintroduction into the finished panels production cycle. The main interventions concerned the restoration of the MCK 1950 shredder (subject to revamping) with the implementation of all the accessory material transport system and connection of the same to the production lines with a new belt conveyor; development of a storage, transport and dosing system to embed flocs in the production process; installation of specific equipment for the "manual" separation of the weakly connected supports of the mineral binder.
To put in operation the system for the storage, transport and dosage of flocs to embed it in the production process, a series of interventions were carried out and new equipment was set up, such as:
- a mechanical transport line from the shredder to the flocs storage containers,
- an extraction and dosing system to reintroduce flocs into the production cycle,
- a pneumatic conveying line for dosed material to feed in the reception phase,
- n. 2 silos for the storage of recovered material for the diversification of waste based on the additives present in the products of origin.
Furthermore, a system of folding doors has been installed, designed to contain the dust produced during the production processes.
The new line was equipped with:
- 3 electric motors of 5,5 kW that feed the transport system from the shredder to the flocs storage containers;
- 2 electric motors of 15 kW h that feed the line to transport the dosed and compliant material for its re-entry into the production cycle.
Figure 1: Vidalengo plant – Silos for mixing the material entering the production process
The Chieti site was reorganized through the construction, near the warehouse and the area dedicated to waste treatment, of a space for the storage of waste from third parties which, after careful selection can enter the recovery operations.
Figura 2: Chieti plant – Area dedicated to the recovery of bitumen-polymer membranes
The space in front of the shed has been expanded by creating a mobile tunnel necessary for the pre-loading and loading of the material in the shredder equipped with special wells for draining rainwater. The setup of the equipment for the waste recovery operations and re-entry of recovered material in the production cycle, consisted in the modification of the raw material extraction and transportation plant, assembly in the new dosing line of a filler (CaCO3) to be remodulated according to the quantity already recovered, adjustment of the unloading mouths of the melters in which the preparation of the mixtures takes place, and finally the installation of a weighing platform.
- Set-up, calibration and optimization of the systems: a series of calibration tests were carried out on the plant in order to optimize the functionalities of the waste treatment system as well as the of the glass wool and bitumen membranes production processes. During the development of the project, in fact, Saint Gobain-Isover conducted a series of qualitative and quantitative tests aimed at determining the dimensional characteristics and the maximum weight percentage of the flocs compatible with their reintroduction in the process. At the Chieti site, calibration tests were carried out on the crusher for shredding bitumen-polymer membrane waste.
- Implementation of the recovery and recycling operations. In the Vidalengo site internal production waste recovery is done, while in Chieti also waste produced by third parties is recovered. The main operations related to the recovery of production waste in Vidalengo are: shredding of the mineral binder in form of rolls and/ or panels and preparation of binder made of flocs; storage of flocs in special silos; transport and dosing of flocs into the production process; reintroduction of flocs into the production phase with their distribution.
- Creation of outreach and dissemination tools. The tools provided for the dissemination of the project results had the objective of raising awareness about and enhancing waste recovery, avoiding disposal in landfills.
With Is.ECO a targeted solution was developed for the reuse of mineral wool waste in the production cycle, closing the product’s life cycle, and also a solution for the management of bitumen membrane waste and fiberglass-based mineral insulation that are treated and re-used in the production process. For producers of bitumen-polymer sheath waste, the project demonstrated the effectiveness of a management system aimed at creating a chain for the recovery of sheath waste. The main result achieved consisted in the demonstration of the validity of the implemented special waste management system and the achievement of the enhancement of this operation.
Through the calibration tests it was possible to set the waste treatment systems as well as the production processes of glass wool and bitumen membranes, optimizing their functionality. A format was elaborated to draft the report on the calibration operations. At the Vidalengo site that works at full capacity, an average of 500 tons of waste were recovered per year, while at the Chieti site approximately 180.000 m² / year, starting respectively from mid-2015 and mid-2016. In addition to the numerous environmental benefits in the long term, the quantitative results expected from the continuation of the post-LIFE + recovery activities at the two pilot plants are:
- treatment in Chieti of approximately 150.000 m²/ year of waste of membranes deriving from internal production waste, obsolescence and from the glass fiber and bitumen production plant in Vidalengo di Caravaggio (BG);
- treatment of about 1.000 tons/ year of internal waste and/ or non-compliant mineral insulation products at the Vidalengo in Caravaggio (BG) plant;
- production of about 600 tons/ year of bitumen-polymer bulk material to be used in the production of membranes.
The replicability of the service implemented within the project foresees a series of difficulties to be faced due to the authorization to be requested for recovering waste produced by third parties or in any case to update the integrated environmental authorization. Another obstacle could be represented by the absence, at present, of an "end of waste" regulation for the sale of a recovered product. On the geographic scale the replicability of the solution is feasible wherever there is a glass wool production plant and/ or a bitumen membrane insulation production plant, but it can also be implemented in geographical areas where there are no production plants as long as there are centers equipped or prepared for the pre-treatment of the waste deriving from the production processes in question which then establish agreements with the building material production plants in order to ensure recovery and re-use.
The Life Is.ECO project was disseminated to customers through the internal seminars organized by Saint Gobain in its Accademy spaces. The Seminars «Comfort and sustainability» at the Saint Gobain Academy, in fact, focused on the issues of the Circular Economy, sustainable building and on projects and services related to waste recovery, like the Life Is.ECO project. During these seminars the generation of the project within the LIFE + program was presented, as well as its objectives and results in terms of energy and resource savings. Attention was given mainly to the Chieti site as an operational waste recovery center.