A focus on sustainability - interview with Jürgen Gruber, Director of Marketing and Sales
How does Solmax align with Europe's sustainability goals?
Jürgen Gruber: The EU aims to be CO2 neutral by 2050, with an interim goal to cut CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030. While the construction industry accounts for 38% of global carbon emissions, it's often overlooked in sustainability discussions. Geosynthetics are durable, energy-efficient, and reduce CO2 emissions. Their lifespan can exceed 100 years, making them a superior alternative to other materials that need replacement every 20-25 years.
Which parts of the geosynthetics process does this sustainability apply to?
Jürgen Gruber: This covers material production, structure construction, and the entire infrastructure lifecycle. There are plans for structure reinstallation and component reuse. Our geosynthetics are recycled using advanced technology, primarily through thermal recovery, converting them into usable energy. Our industry is pushing for product refurbishment and reuse, as discussed in the "Missing Link" project by the "Kunststoff-Cluster Oberösterreich".
How does Solmax address the microplastics issue?
Jürgen Gruber: Our products are mostly exposed to static loads, preventing microplastic release. Moreover, geosynthetics reduce transport efforts, thus decreasing tire wear, a significant microplastic source. Comparative studies highlight how synthetic layers significantly reduce transportation compared to mineral layers.
What impact do geosynthetics have on CO2 emissions?
Jürgen Gruber: Studies from ETH Zurich show constructions using geosynthetics reduce CO2 emissions by 80-85% and use 70-75% less energy compared to traditional methods.
What are the alternatives to geosynthetics?
Jürgen Gruber: Without geosynthetics, more natural resources are used, leading to longer transport routes. Chemical binders like cement and lime are alternatives. However, these methods miss out on environmental benefits and the potential for a closed-loop economy.
How are geosynthetics environmentally safe?
Jürgen Gruber: Our products undergo environmental tests. They're soaked to ensure no harmful substances dissolve. We use drinking water standards for evaluation.
How does Solmax differentiate from other manufacturers in terms of sustainability?
Jürgen Gruber: As a market leader, we drive innovation, investing in research for eco-friendly solutions. We focus on waste reduction, even repurposing our waste for packaging and products.
What future potential does the geosynthetics industry have?
Jürgen Gruber: Research is exploring 100% recyclable geosynthetics. Biodegradable materials, like corn or sugar-based yarns, have the potential for short-lifespan products. We're also examining biodegradable fibers for agricultural use and promoting recyclate reuse.
What's next for Solmax?
Jürgen Gruber: Our priority is to highlight our contribution to sustainability in a manner that resonates with policymakers.
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