OPINION: Rockwool speaks out following opposition to plans in the US – The Post

OPINION: Rockwool speaks out following opposition to plans in the US

Danish company reaffirms its global commitment to sustainability and local respect for the environment”

Rockwool is a multinational manufacturer of mineral wool products. It is the world’s second largest producer of insulation products
April 5th, 2019 9:22 am| by Anthony Abbotts

Last week has seen various claims made by opponents of the manufacturing facility that Danish company Rockwool is building in the US state of West Virginia. Many of these statements have been inaccurate and based on imprecise information. This naturally concerns us, as responsible environmental stewardship is one core value of our business and we are always working to better ourselves in terms of the environmental impact of our operations.

There are many good reasons for our decision to build our newest US facility in West Virginia. As part of our commitment globally to sustainability, it is important that we are able to manufacture our products in locations as close as possible to the market. This enables us to minimise the distances over which they need to be transported, reducing our carbon footprint and keeping us responsive to customer demand. Demand for stone wool products in United States is growing rapidly, driven largely by its non-combustible properties. It therefore makes both environmental and commercial sense for us to expand our production capacity there.

Selecting the sites of our factories is something we take seriously and we follow a rigorous process, where protecting health and the environment is a key consideration. In West Virginia, Rockwool was invited to build a facility on land zoned as an industrial area. The facility has been approved by the state and local government and all the required permits are in place.

The facility has been approved based on strict primarily federal, but also state emissions laws. These are set by the US Environmental Protection Agency and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and in accordance with the Clean Air Act 1990. The limits established within these regulations are set specifically to protect the health of sensitive populations such as children, the elderly, and asthmatics. In West Virginia, our emissions will be well below these limits.

At the site itself, state-of-the-art technologies are being used to ensure that once operational, the facility will function within environmental limits. Rockwool is also fully funding local air-monitoring stations that will begin monitoring air quality from one year before the start of operations to ensure that we can track and benchmark emissions. This data will be made available to the public.

We’re bringing economic benefits to the community too. The new facility represents an investment of 150 million US dollars and will directly create 150 new jobs, with a similar additional number set to be created indirectly as we build supplier relationships and locally source services and products. Through investment and taxes paid, we project that 218 million US dollars will be injected into the local economy over the next 10 years.

Rockwool has operated in North America for more than 30 years and 80+ years globally, with a consistent track record of safeguarding the safety, health and well-being of citizens in the communities living by the 45 facilities in 20 countries where we already operate. For decades, we have successfully operated facilities around the world, many of which are situated near schools, neighbourhoods, businesses, recreational facilities, vineyards and even national parks. 

We are proud of our track record and of the environmental qualities of our products. This is why we welcomed West Virginia shareholders’ acceptance of our invitation to meet in person, which provided an opportunity for direct dialogue following our AGM in Roskilde last week. An invitation has also been extended to that same group to tour our manufacturing facility in Øster Doense, which uses the same technology as the new facility in West Virginia. We believe that seeing our manufacturing process in person will provide them with further reassurance.


Anthony Abbotts

Anthony is the director of sustainability at the Rockwool Group