The Danish company Miljøskærm has come up with a creative use for retired wind turbine blades – they recycle the fibreglass into sound barriers for busy roads in order to address noise pollution.

Wind turbines are typically made from fibreglass, due to its light weight and durability, but this composite material is usually landfilled because it is notoriously complex to recycle. Miljøskærm collects the used blades and shreds the fibreglass material into small fibres. These fibres are then pressed together into sheets that are designed to be highly porous and therefore effective at absorbing noise.

Manufacturing noise barriers using recycled fibre glass also requires 40% less energy and generates 60% less overall  CO2 emissions than conventional products made from aluminium and mineral wool.

The material has been trialled for noise pollution control in the Copenhagen suburb of Vallensbæk. The suburb has experienced significant growth in traffic in recent years, and now over 100,000 cars pass through each day. A Miljøskærm sound barrier was installed in June 2016, and effectively brought noise pollution from 61 decibels to 54, bringing it well below the acceptable level of 58 decibels. 

Why you should care

Miljøskærm is simultaneously addressing two issues. First, on a global scale it is expected that discarded wind turbine waste will exceed 150,000 tonnes annually by 2027. Finding a new purpose for this material is important for avoiding wasteful landfilling. Second, the social and environmental consequences of excessive noise exposure in Europe is estimated to cost €40 billion per year. Noise pollution has been linked to sleep deprivation, stress, high blood pressure and more.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Good health and well-being

Eliminating unsafe levels of noise pollution can help to counteract health issues like high blood pressure, stress and sleep deprivation associated with excessive noise.

Responsible consumption and production

Repurposing fibreglass from wind turbine blades can decrease waste generation in an industry that is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.