Kiilto develops recycling of construction product packaging

Kiilto’s recyclable packaging and packaging made of recycled material are helping the construction industry to reduce its environmental impact.

In its environmental promise, Kiilto has stated that, by 2025, 70% of its packaging will be made of reusable, recycled or renewable material.

Lilli Puntti, R&D Support Manager at Kiilto, says that Kiilto is also steadily working towards achieving this goal in construction sector products.

“For example, in the summer and autumn of 2018, we introduced new, fully recyclable polyethylene bags for floor levelling compounds.” 

Polyethylene bags will gradually replace the old paper bags which have a plastic inner lining.

“In practice, the old bag material could not be recycled at all and tearing the plastic film off the paper was unreasonably laborious.”

Polyethylene bags have other advantages, in addition to recyclability. The bags do not cause dust problems, as they can be made airtight on the filling line. Their airtightness and weather-resistance also ease storage. 

Recycled and durable

Kiilto also has and will introduce packaging which is recyclable, or made of recyclable materials. 

“Our grout pails are made of 100% recycled polypropylene. Only the lid is made of virgin plastic, because it is not yet possible to make sufficiently durable lids from recycled plastic. The lids are subjected to a heavy load when pails are stacked on top of each other.”

Recycled polyethylene will be introduced in tile adhesive bags in spring 2020.

“Because the bags are relatively thin and require a sturdy handle, they contain 50% virgin polyethylene to ensure durability.”

Wall adhesive, waterproofing and floor adhesive packaging made of 100% recycled polypropylene will also be introduced this year. Kiilto’s Purchasing Manager Liisa Tuominen (pictured) says that the recycled plastic used by Kiilto is mainly sourced from industrial customers, but this could vary depending on supply.

“Recyclable plastic sourced from industry is more homogeneous and durable than other types,” she says.

Better recycling at construction sites

In addition, Kiilto is one of the actors pondering how increase recycling on construction sites. This issue has been discussed in workshops organised by organisations such as Motiva, the Ministry of the Environment and the Nordic Swan organisation. 

“Even recyclable packaging from many construction sites ends up as energy waste. The challenge lies in issues such as cleaning soiled packaging,” Puntti says.

“In Finland, recycling is also hampered by the fact that distances are long and fairly small volumes of recyclable plastic tend to be generated in each location,” Tuominen points out.

Treatment plants, where collected materials are taken for recycling, require large volumes of specific plastic types at a time. The plastic is then mechanically ground into small plastic granules, from which recycled plastic is made.

“Pilot projects have already been launched in Kiilto’s professional hygiene business to help our own customers with recycling and seeking best practices. We are also planning a similar experiment in the construction business,” Puntti says.

Chemical recycling on its way

Lilli Puntti believes that, in the future, construction product recycling will be facilitated by using chemical recycling in addition to mechanical recycling. This involves using gasification to break down the structure of plastic into hydrocarbons – i.e. returning plastics to their oil-based components. The first pilot projects in the sector are underway, with Neste Corporation acting as a pioneer in the industry.

“Chemical recycling is also suitable for construction packaging that contains a range of materials, or is soiled.”

Hanna Alamylläri, Kiilto’s Marketing Operations Manager, says that Kiilto is closely monitoring developments in the packaging industry.

“We will adopt new, technically and economically rational solutions as they become available.”