Essential Product Qualities
Recycling of near-natural materials
In the course of the materiality analysis, the product qualities outlined below were identified as essential for the Wienerberger Group. We take this as confirmation of our efforts undertaken in the area of innovative product management.
All Wienerberger products can be recycled to a certain extent, but the percentage of recycled materials used in production depends on the material and the technical maturity of the re-use process. Therefore, the actual rate of recycling depends on the business unit concerned.
Ceramic production: recycled materials are added to the raw material mix
Clay, a recyclable raw material, is the most important input material in ceramic production (clay blocks, facing bricks, roof tiles and ceramic pipes). This results in a high rate of recyclability of our ceramic products. Internal production residues, such as broken products or scrap, are returned into the production process after the necessary preparation. This holds, in particular, for Steinzeug-Keramo’s pipes and fittings, which are certified according to the Cradle to Cradle ® standard. For certain product groups, recycled materials from external sources are used as additives to the raw material mix in the preparation process. Typical recycling materials from biogenic sources used as pore-forming agents in clay blocks are saw dust, straw, sunflower husks and paper fiber. In the production of ceramic pipes we also use stone meal from gravel production as well as ceramic residues from the production of clay pavers, roof tiles, sanitary tiles and other ceramic products which cannot be re-used there.
Prerequisites for recycling: clearly defined separation of materials and awareness building in the construction industry
As a prerequisite for the use of recycled materials from external sources, clearly defined separation of materials from demolished buildings is essential. Wienerberger therefore makes a special effort to build awareness for the issue of recycling in the construction industry. Moreover, we advocate the adoption of legal provisions and standards designed to make the use of recycled building materials easier and more economical in the future. We thoroughly study the possibility of re-using ceramic residues from building construction either in brick production or other applications (e.g. in landscaping).
Percentage of recycled material to be increased at Pipelife
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) granulates are the most important raw materials used in the production of plastic pipes. Increasing the percentage of secondary raw materials in the raw material mix and, at the same time, maintaining the high level of product quality are among our research priorities. The percentage of secondary raw materials used depends on the production mix. In 2014, Pipelife used 58.9 kg of secondary raw materials per ton of products produced. This is to be increased to 70 kg/t by 2020.
Pipelife acts as collection center for used pipes and fittings in Austria
Recycled materials from external sources have to be collected and processed. Through its membership in the Austrian Working Group on Plastic Pipe Recycling (Österreichischer Arbeitskreis Kunststoffrohr Recycling, ÖAKR), Pipelife actively supports awareness building. Moreover, Pipelife production sites in Austria serve as collection centers for used plastic pipes and fittings.