Widely used within the greenhouse industry for hydroponically grown fruits and vegetables, rock wool presents a unique environmental challenge. The fibrous mineral wool — similar in appearance to the fibreglass insulation used in walls — retains water well while allowing root systems to breathe.
After serving its purpose, however, the waterlogged brick of material, encased in a plastic covering, ends up being tossed in a landfill, where it's expensive to process.
Walker Environmental Group (WEG), a resource recovery subsidiary of Niagara Falls-based Walker Industries, is hoping to give used rock wool new life, thanks in part to provincial government funding through the Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative.
In partnership between WEG and the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, $80,773 will be provided to cover half the cost of conducting a feasibility study on a repurposing solution for used rock wool.
Looking for ways to recycle rock wool and keep it out of landfills is nothing new for WEG, says Geoff Boyd, vice-president of resource recovery.
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