Product Sustainability

Owens Corning aspires to be a net positive company through strategic collaborations, intentional decision making, and effective corporate guidance.

Our people and products make the world a better place. This is a statement we live out every day in working to make our products more sustainable and meet the needs of an ever more demanding marketplace.

Our biggest impact comes through the products we sell and the way they are used. We look to provide products that save energy, contribute to good living environments, are safe to use and have an end of life that is regenerative. Our supply chain is diverse and complex. Social and environmental impacts happen at every stage of every product’s lifecycle. Over the years we have worked on product attributes that improve the sustainability of our products and pursued certifications to communicate that improvement to our stakeholders.

Living Product Challenge

One such program is The Living Product Challenge (LPC). The LPC re-imagines the design and construction of products to function as elegantly and efficiently as anything found in the natural world. Owens Corning has collaborated with the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) to evaluate two of its products, using LPC as a unifying framework in order to evaluate the sustainability of our product from a value chain perspective; things that we’ve thought about, and worked on but, until now, had not had a specific framework for quantifying.

A case study of how we use this program to evaluate and communicate our product’s sustainability journey.

Product Innovation

At Owens Corning we are committed to innovation and value creation. We listen to our customers and work to deliver what is valued – strong product performance and the introduction of relevant, new, best-in-class products and solutions supported by world-class technical expertise.

With eight global research and development centers located in key markets, we invest to ensure we deliver products and solutions focused on optimizing the role of our products in our customer’s value chain. Through this focus, we work with our customers to deliver increased competitiveness through product redesign or productivity improvements. We offer one of the strongest technical teams in the industry to develop new products, solutions and applications.

All new and significantly modified existing products sold by Owens Corning undergo a comprehensive product stewardship review to ensure that they perform as claimed and are both safe and environmentally sound to make, use and dispose. We have conducted more than 1,119 reviews since 1997 and more than 822 since 2006 when the product stewardship program became a mandatory element of Owens Corning’s Business Code of Conduct Policy. Product reviews address all elements of Owens Corning’s Environmental, Health, Safety and Product Stewardship Policy, and are carried out by highly qualified Product Stewardship Review Board members. Reviews are conducted at various stages, including the design, development, and test market, manufacture and distribution phases.

The product stewardship process is also utilized to evaluate and approve opportunities for recycling of materials, which includes products manufactured and/or sold by Owens Corning and the waste material generated from the manufacturing of Owens Corning products that are re-used (recycled) for other than their intended use. Although a significant number of both internal and external recycling/re-purposing opportunities were at various stages in the pipeline last year, six met the criteria for product stewardship review in 2015; 43 have been evaluated since 2006.

Sustainability Mapping Tool

As part of the product stewardship process, developers are asked to complete a questionnaire that generates a sustainability map of the product throughout its life cycle. The Owens Corning Sustainability Mapping Tool is used to evaluate how the new product or process will impact the Company’s sustainability goals and to drive decisions in the design phase that will achieve a portfolio of more sustainable products. Summary reports from these assessments identifying trends and opportunities are published on a quarterly basis.

In 2015:

  • 61% of new products and 50% of new applications for our products are showing net sustainability gains. These gains were most frequently caused by product developments that improved our manufacturing footprint (lower plant air emissions, lower material consumption, lower energy usage and higher process efficiencies).
  • Net sustainability losses are a low percentage (less than 10%). Losses were most frequently caused by the use of more materials in the design, manufacture or use of the product including the requirement of more packaging materials.

Transparency

Transparency is important in providing our customers and specifiers information about our products. Owens Corning uses third-party organizations to test, assess and certify or describe product attributes in order for our customers and stakeholders to understand the environmental and human health impacts of our products.

The following are the description of several transparency paths used for Owens Corning products.

Life Cycle Assessments

Owens Corning met the goal to make transparent the total life cycle assessment (LCA) of all core products by 2015. These include its fiberglass, mineral wool, extruded polystyrene (XPS) foam insulation and roofing shingles as well as composite glass product offerings, which encompass reinforcements, non-woven mats and technical fabrics.

Performing LCAs on many of our core products has identified and allowed improvements in processes that maximize their positive environmental impacts. Full cradle-to-grave assessments examine all stages of a product’s life, starting with the extraction of raw material inputs, continuing through processing, manufacturing and product use and ending with disposal or recycling.

Owens Corning co-chaired the committee that provided life cycle inventory data on composite processes that can be used by the public for further life cycle assessment studies. The data submitted to the U.S. public database at National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) included information on E-glass, Unsaturated Polyester Resins (UPR) and five types of composite conversion processes.

Owens Corning was a major glass-manufacturing participant in the life cycle assessment of CFGF – Continuous Filament Glass Fibre Products. The GlassFibreEurope, the European Glass Fibre Producers Association, commissioned this study. A database on European manufacturing for various composite glass products is now publicly available.

Owens Corning’s advocacy efforts include membership on the American Center for Life Cycle Assessment (ACLCA). ACLCA is a nonprofit membership organization advancing the science and application of LCA to build capacity, drive development and connect the LCA community to achieve environmental sustainability.

Buyers are increasingly demanding to know the full extent of a product's environmental impact. From raw material extraction, production and packaging to distribution, and end use and disposal. Transparency into the impacts of a product at each stage of its life cycle has become a critical driver of purchases and specifications. Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) enable manufacturers to disclose the environmental impact of their products identified by the LCA in a credible, streamlined and universally understood manner.

Recycling

Owens Corning is one of the largest users of recycled glass in the world, using over 1 billion pounds annually of curbside consumer containers and pre-consumer recycled glass.

Learn more about about our recycling efforts for glass and other products.