Understanding "Recycled Content" in Insulation Materials

As we continue to see a cultural shift toward supporting and implementing sustainability, recycling and sustainable manufacturing processes are becoming substantially more prominent. When it comes to materials like fiberglass insulation, it’s a one-two punch as this is a material that can substantially improve a building’s energy efficiency, and it is made from glass, a rapidly renewable and readily recyclable material.

At JM, we don’t just refine our manufacturing processes to ensure that systems are running as efficiently as possible, we also look for ways that we can incorporate recycled materials into our manufacturing process to reduce waste in our landfills. In addition to re-using scrap glass produced during our manufacturing processes, we also use well over 100,000 tons of recycled post-consumer glass (like glass bottles) as a raw material to make our fiberglass each year. Using post-consumer recycled glass not only decreases our dependency on other natural resources, but it also saves energy and directly reduces emissions of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, from our glass melting processes. 

This practice has become so prolific that many organizations now provide third-party services to certify manufacturers and quantify the volume of post-consumer recycled material used in their manufacturing processes. For example, on many of Johns Manville’s product data sheets, you’ll see an SCS Recycled Content logo that indicates what percentage of the product is made from post-consumer recycled materials. This logo is provided by a third-party certification company that has been certifying recycled content in JM products since the mid-1990s. Independent third-party certification companies offer an unbiased assessment of manufacturing processes to help protect consumers by ensuring the recycled content values manufacturers claim are factual and based on actual data.

In order to receive the SCS Recycled Content logo, manufacturers must undergo a detailed auditing process that explores their manufacturing practices. The auditor will review both data from the manufacturing process and the process itself to determine how much of the weight of the finished product comes from recycled materials. As a result, there is no “minimum weight requirement” to receive a recycled content certification; the company simply certifies how much of the end product’s weight comes from post-consumer recycled material, whether its 1% of the product’s weight or 100%. 

This level of transparency has become an integral factor for many consumers, building-owners, and even many specifiers. For the environmentally-minded end-user or building owner, recycled content can be a key product differentiator that can influence whether or not they purchase a material. Additionally, building certification programs, like LEED, often award credits for using materials that have been made from recycled products. As a result, many specifiers who are responsible for designing and building LEED certified structures specify materials that were made with minimum certified post-consumer recycled content thresholds.

For more information about the recycled content of JM’s products, look for the SCS Recycled Content logo on our data sheets, or reach out to your account representative