PVC Window Recycling Grows in UK

More than 1 million PVC-U window frames were recycled in the U.K. in 2011, says consulting firm.

January 31, 2013
CDR Staff

Axion Consulting, Bramhall, United Kingdom, has reported that more than 1 million unplasticized polyvinyl chloride (PVC-U) post-consumer window frames are being recycled in the U.K. every year through Recovinyl, an initiative of the European PVC industry. Recovinyl was created in 2003 as part of a Vinyl 2010 Voluntary Commitment to advance the sustainable development of the PVC industry by improving production processes, minimize emissions, develop recycling technology and boost the collection and recycling of vinyl scrap.

According to Axion, the most recent figures show that nearly 25,500 metric tons of PVC windows were recycled in 2011, representing 52 percent of the overall 48,500 metric tons of PVC recycled. In addition to window frames, other materials collected and recycled through Recovinyl’s program includes pipes and fittings, cables, flexible PVC and rigid PVC films. The total collected equates to more than 1 million windows. Axion says it expects to have updated information for 2012 available in April, 2013.

“These figures are an impressive achievement and clearly demonstrate the sustainability credentials of PVC as a building material that can be easily recycled and re-used, as well as the on-going industry commitment to more sustainable practices,” says Jane Gardner, of Axion Consulting.

“Thanks to the real efforts being made to collect these waste frames and the infrastructure now in place to recycle them, waste PVC-U can be diverted from landfill and successfully turned back into useful new products,” she adds.

“Importantly, we are not claiming that all of the 1 million window frames are being manufactured into new window frames, but we are claiming that more than 1 million window frames are being recycled into second-life products for long-term use in the construction industry, including new windows,” says Jason Leadbitter, chairman of VinylPlus’ Controlled Loop Committee.

“This recycling record adds considerable strength to the role of PVC windows in sustainable construction,” says Philip Law, public and industrial affairs director of the British Plastics Federation. “The numbers are truly outstanding considering the long-life of PVC windows, the rate at which they enter the waste stream and the flat market conditions in the construction sector.”