Can my insulation be recycled?

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Most types of insulation can be recycled. However, specific methods are required for materials like fibreglass, foam, and cellulose insulation.

Cellulose insulation, made from recycled paper, cannot be traditionally recycled because of the fire-retardant materials added. Foam insulation, used in residential and commercial buildings, can be recycled at specific centres. However it is not recommended to place polystyrene products in yellow waste bins because of flammability.

Rockwool insulation, made from natural fibres, can be recycled and re-spun as long as it is still in good condition. Fibreglass insulation can be recycled, but grinding and shredding can damage the glass fibres.

How can you recycle home insulation?

Insulation allows your home to stay at a comfortable temperature all year round, reducing your heating and cooling bills. Most forms of insulation will last the lifetime of the house. So can insulation be recycled?

The short answer is that nearly all insulation products can be recycled. However, specific recycling or reusing methods should be used for insulation materials such as fibreglass, foam, and cellulose insulation.

Cellulose insulation

Cellulose insulation is good for the environment, made mostly from recycled paper. It is energy-efficient, but it cannot be recycled like regular paper due to added fire-retardant materials. Instead, take it to special recycling centres.

If something needs replacement after 20-30 years, consider repurposing it rather than discarding it. Only throw it away if there is a recycling centre available. But, getting pros with the right equipment is crucial for repurposing cellulose insulation.

Foam insulation

In homes and businesses, foam insulation in spray or board form can be reused. However, some recycling centres won’t accept polystyrene foam due to its flammability and harmful components like petroleum and benzene. So, it’s not a good idea to put polystyrene products in yellow waste recycling bins. However, certain recycling centres use special methods for foam insulation.

Before you recycle polyurethane foam, check with your local council or recycling centre to make sure they can handle it. You can also reuse or repurpose foam insulation if it is in good condition.

foam board insulation in bin
You can recycle foam board, depending on your council, recycling centre and its condition

Rockwool insulation

Insulation batts from durable natural fibres such as rock wool insulation can be recycled. These types of insulation are the most recyclable as they can be re-spun when their use has run out as long as they are still in good condition.

Although, like the other types of insulation, if you seek to repurpose it. We suggest contacting a certified professional. To dispose of it, contact your local waste recycling plant to ensure they accept this product stream.

Newcastle has rules for getting rid of Synthetic Mineral Fibres like fibreglass, rock wool, and ceramic fibres in NSW.

Fibreglass insulation

The best way to dispose of fibreglass insulation is through recycling. Although, grinding and shredding fibreglass can diminish the integrity of the glass fibres. Therefore, you should contact your nearest waste recycling plant and see whether they have a specific fibreglass recycling bin.

Suppose you want to repurpose the fibreglass insulation that you might have removed from one part of the home. Ensuring the insulation’s longevity and correct installation requires a certain level of experience.

old fibreglass insulation

What about using recycled insulation in my home? 

Each recycled material’s cost and efficiency may vary. However, using insulation material again will lessen any adverse effects on the environment.

Insulation is only as good as the materials and the quality of the installation. So our recommendation is to leave it to the experts.

Recycling fibreglass

Before using fibreglass insulation again, check if it’s okay. Moisture can make it grow bacteria and mould and not work well.

Fibreglass insulation is made from recycled stuff (mostly glass but less than cellulose). To reuse it, seek assistance from experts who are knowledgeable in this area.

Recycling polyurethane foam

Recycling it physically is a simple and effective short-term method. Chemical recycling is tougher since large-scale methods aren’t widely available yet. Some suggest slowly phasing out polyurethane foam from packaging and insulation for a more environmentally friendly approach.

Recycling cellulose 

Manufacturers make cellulose insulation mostly from recycled newspaper (about 70-80%) and fire-resistant materials (20-30%). Manufacturers make cellulose insulation with less energy than other types, making it a more efficient process.

Cellulose insulation can be recycled and used again on the job site. However, it’s important to have trained specialists handle this process. Repurposing cellulose insulation requires special skills and equipment.

Recycling mineral wool

Whether you can reuse it depends on the type of mineral wool and the condition of the insulation. After many years, it may become fragile, so be sure to check if it’s still suitable for use.

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