Every year, the North American greenhouse industry uses more than 250,000 cubic metres of growing substrates — enough to fill over 4,500 household swimming pools. Much of that used substrate is disposed of in non-sustainable ways; it ends up in landfills or applications where it ultimately ends up in the ground. Finding a sustainable alternative is a growing concern for the industry.
Grodan has the answer with a true recycling program. In partnership with Brampton Brick, used Grodan substrate will be incorporated as a raw material in the brick manufacturer’s building products. This symbiotic relationship will allow the Brampton, Ontario company to offset other raw materials normally used in its bricks that are extracted from limited quarry resources.
The recycling program works like this:
• At the end of the growing cycle, greenhouse operations deposit the material into Grodan-supplied bins and it is removed for processing;
• Once collected, the product is processed to separate the rockwool media from the plastic wrapping, which is recycled using traditional methods;
• The rockwool component is ground up and transported to Brampton Brick where it’s incorporated into the brick manufacturing process as a raw material to offset a portion of sedimentary shale rock that is typically required for production.
While still in its infancy, sustainability is gaining traction throughout the distribution chain, from consumers, through retailers, to the growers.
The collected Grodan substrate is used to manufacture bricks specified for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified building projects according to Brampton Brick representative, Brad Cobbledick.
“What it does for us is displace 20 percent (by volume) of the shale that we have to mine in a nearby quarry and transport,” says Cobbledick. “So it extends the life of our quarry — a non-renewable resource — and allows us to have a certain amount of recycled product in our brick.”
The inclusion of used Grodan substrate has no effect on the colour, texture or physical properties of the brick; it’s a positive attribute that means the bricks can be specified with no compromise in quality.
(Written by Cam Buchan, freelance writer.)