Insights on Sustainability: Recyclable Building Materials in Construction

Our Sustainability & Public Affairs Team at Rockfon, answers some of the most frequently asked questions around sustainability in construction and how Rockfon reuses and recycles construction materials.


Long-Term Commitments to Sustainable Development and Construction 

At Rockfon, we believe in delivering high-quality acoustic ceiling solutions and environmentally friendly building materials. It’s essential for our business to have long-term sustainability at its core. We aim to create sustainable building materials and are committed to recyclable products. 

With our optimised supply chain and product recycling programs, Rockfon sees sustainability as an imperative and would never introduce a design not evaluated according to the recognised sustainability standards. But beyond that, sustainability has also caused us to reimagine acoustic solutions and their place in modern interiors’, highlighted by Christian Klinge, Innovation Director at Rockfon. 

Transparency and customer trust are vital for us, and it’s the driving factor for why we consistently calculate and report our environmental performance. All this information can be found in our one-stop’ Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) available on all our local websites.   

Our EPDs follow all relevant European and international standards (EN 15804, ISO 14025 for EPD, ISO 14040 (part 1 & 2) and ISO 14044) and are third-party verified.  

What is the Difference between Upcycling and Downcycling? Aren’t they all Just Recycling? 

Recycling is an industrial process where objects are transformed into new materials and then used to make either the same product again (such as a sound absorption panel), or other products made from the recycled raw material. 

While upcycling and downcycling are both examples of recycling, not all recycling processes are considered equal. When we convert discarded materials into something of equal or greater quality and value, it’s "upcycled". When a material or product is “downcycled", it’s transformed into something of lesser value. Therefore, when you recycle, it’s crucial to upcycle instead of downcycling — if possible.   

Construction creates an estimated third of the world's overall waste, and at least 40% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions[1]. According to Transparency Market Research, annual construction waste is expected to reach 2.2 billion tons globally by 2025[2]. These put a lot of pressure for the industry to up their sustainable efforts by recovering the majority of its waste.  

What is Recycled Content, and Why is it Important that I Purchase Products with a High Level of Recycled Content? 

Recycled content is the part of a product that comes from previously wasted materials that are recycled. It’s essential to select products that have a high level of recycled content meaning that you are contributing to save primary and scarce resources — as in fact, 800 billion tons of natural resources are dedicated to the construction industry.  

As much as 30% of all building materials delivered to a typical construction site can end up as waste[3]. More than 75% of all construction waste from wood, drywall, asphalt shingles, bricks, and clay tiles end up overflowing landfills [3]. Therefore, by using recycled content, you also help save spaces for non-reusable materials. According to the CDRA, recycling about 583 million tons of waste has saved 4,300 acres of landfill space. 

Buying products where the recycled comes from upcycled, rather than downcycled waste materials, is also crucial. Upcycled material content improves the circularity of building materials that maintain their value and reduces resource consumption. Statistics show that using recycled instead of virgin materials reduces CO2 emissions by 40–70% [4].  

How can Rockfon Products Help my Building become more Sustainable? 

Rockfon is your sustainability partner. Apart from the low embodied environmental impacts, Rockfon products can be reused and recycled, and they have a high level of recycled content from upcycled waste materials. In our production, we upcycle waste materials from other industries, stopping them from being sent to landfill and creating higher value.

In fact, ROCKWOOL Group recycled roughly 163,000 tonnes of stone wool waste in 2020. And our acoustic solutions are made up of anywhere between 29% up to 64% of recycled, closed loop materials.

Rockfon acoustic solutions have multiple environmental benefits for a building as well. They have the best-in-class indoor climate labels and have excellent fire properties, thus, creating safe conditions for the building's users. They also contribute to a healthy indoor environment by safeguarding the air quality and hygiene, the acoustic environment, and aesthetic performance of all building types — from offices to medical buildings and learning environments.  

Finally, Rockfon ceiling tiles provide excellent light reflection leading to energy savings. A study by COWI, on Rockfon ceiling panels, stated that a ceiling with a light reflection of 87% can result in energy savings of up to 22.75% per year. Natural light levels enhanced by light reflection is also proven to be able to boost work performance, enhance work conditions, and improve comfort. 

How do Rockfon Products help me with my Sustainability Certification? 

According to the United States Government, the number of LEED-certified projects in the country grew from 296 certifications in the year 2006, to 67,200 in the year 2018.

If you are looking to have a green building certification like LEED®, BREEAM®, DGNB®, WELL, or similar, we can help you achieve your goals by delivering products and solutions with documented benefits.  

With annual green building materials market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.25% from 2021 to 2026 [5], we want to simplify the time-consuming documentation process for building certification. For this reason, you can find all the relevant information about how each product helps you in your certification in our published "Product Sustainability Declarations", which are available on our website. These reports help you make easy decisions around sustainability. 


Does Rockfon offer Recycling Services for their Products? 

Stone wool is a fully sustainable closed-loop product. It can be recycled again and again without any degradation in quality. Our ROCKWOOL factories receive wool waste which we turn into briquettes and feed back to our production, instead of using virgin stone. By that, new high quality stone wool products are produced, with a high percentage of recycled content.  

We offer the possibility to our customers in many European markets to recycle old stone wool ceiling tiles or cut-offs from installation. We have established partnerships in 14 countries, and we can support you with your request for recycling. 



[1] “Construction and Demolition Waste.” n.d. 

[2] “Construction Waste Market - Global Industry Analysis and Forecast 2017 - 2025 | TMR.” n.d. 

[3] Review of Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2018 Fact Sheet. 2020. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

[4] “Building a World Free from Waste and Pollution.” n.d. Accessed January 26, 2022. 

[5] Markets, Research and. 2021. “Worldwide Green Building Materials Industry to 2026 - by Type, Application, End-User and Geography.” GlobeNewswire News Room. March 25, 2021.