Knauf is a global leader in the manufacture and distribution of plasterboard, compounds, cornice, acoustic design solutions, steel and associated products and systems to the lightweight construction industry. With over 220 production facilities and sales organisations in over 80 countries globally, and employing more than 28,000 people worldwide, Knauf uses the innovation derived from its global footprint to provide cutting edge responsible products that have been used in homes and on iconic buildings all over the world.
Late in 2020, the Knauf Group accepted an offer from Etex Group to purchase the plasterboard and metal business of Knauf in Australia (Knauf Plasterboard Pty Limited). The transaction was completed 27th February 2021, with the organisation becoming Etex Australia Pty Limited (the business ABN remains unchanged). The company will continue to trade under Knauf branding during a transition period in 2021.
Knauf developed Australia’s first carbon neutral plasterboard with an opt-in carbon offset program that is certified Climate Active Carbon Neutral for the manufacture of MastaShield, FireShield and WaterShield plasterboard at its Matraville plant in NSW. For nearly a decade Knauf has reduced its carbon emissions in the complete lifecycle of manufacturing plasterboard, from the supply of raw materials to end of life. Since the original certification, Knauf has added to the opt-in carbon neutral offer a range of their light-weight metal framing products, manufactured in their Beenleigh plant. This means that Knauf customers can now choose to have a carbon neutral wall system for their projects.
The business case for carbon neutral certification
Knauf manufactures products which are 100 per cent recyclable and the company is committed to ensuring that the environmental impact of manufacturing plasterboard and lightweight metal systems are reduced as much as possible.
The independent Climate Active certification has helped Knauf communicate its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint to customers and partners, and differentiated the company in the lightweight construction industry.
The certification has enabled Knauf to work closely with its customer Lendlease in reducing the embodied carbon in the residential buildings Alexander and Anadara which are part of the Barangaroo development in Sydney, NSW.
Achieving carbon neutral certification
The emissions boundary for the manufacture of plasterboard and metal systems covers the lifecycle at every stage such as supply of raw materials, manufacturing of product, distribution from plant to site, installation by customer and end of life.
The most significant contribution to emissions from the plasterboard manufacturing process is the use of natural gas (thermal energy) and electricity for the drying and plastermill activities in the plant. Together these account for over 98 per cent of emissions from product manufacture.
In the manufacture of light weight metal systems, the main emissions sources relate to the consumption of energy upstream in the manufacture of the steel itself. The certified Knauf Metal products are made from BlueScope Zincalume®AM 150 steel known for its quality and reliability. It contributes to a long product life and durable buildings. Of the activities under Knauf operational control (or gate to gate), the most significant contribution to emissions from Knauf processes is the use of electricity in the roll-forming stage.
Since 2009, Knauf has introduced and invested in a wide range of initiatives to reduce its overall carbon emissions at an organisational level and within its production facilities. These initiatives include ongoing scrap reduction targets, recycling of waste heat in production facilities, water reduction measures, lighting program involving LED and skylight replacement, installation of variable speed drives and automated shutdown of idle equipment, and staff education programs.
Where the environmental reduction measures are not able to completely eliminate carbon emissions in the manufacturing process, Knauf has carefully selected qualified providers of carbon offsets. These offsets not only meet the NCOS requirements, but also meet social responsibility measures such as creating improvements for communities or replacing carbon intensive energy use with renewable energy sources.
Knauf supports the Lifestraw® Carbon for Water project in Kenya. This project delivers co-benefits such as safe drinking water in the home, local employment, improving health outcomes and removes the need to burn timber, which avoids both carbon emissions and deforestation.
Benefits and outcomes of carbon neutral certification
Knauf’s carbon neutral program is unique and positions Knauf as a leader in innovation and sustainability. Knauf is the only carbon neutral plasterboard and light weight framing manufacturer in Australia to provide carbon neutrality at every stage of its manufacturing processes. The company takes its responsibility to minimise any impact on the environment seriously and this commitment is reflected in environmental management actions.
Challenges and learnings
The most significant challenge for our carbon neutral certification is to maintain an allocation process for identifying inputs to carbon neutral products and to ensure a rigorous approach to activity data collection. Both of these ensure consistency of analysis, ease of audit verification and integrity of the results.