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Recovinyl recycles more than one million PVC-U windows a year in the UK

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More than one million PVC-U post-consumer window frames are being recycled in the UK every year through Recovinyl, the PVC industry’s recycling scheme.

Latest audited figures show that end-of-life windows and profiles comprised 25,480 tonnes (52%) of the total 48,544 tonnes of waste PVC recycled in 2011. Other materials collected and recycled through the Recovinyl programme included pipes and fittings, cables, flexible PVC and rigid PVC films. New verified data for 2012 is expected in April.

Recovinyl estimates that this windows and profiles fraction, which doesn’t include doors, would equate to roughly 1.25 million frames or enough replacement windows for around 122,000 houses and flats – almost as many as the 137,000 new dwellings built in the UK throughout 2011.

The assumption is based on the weight of an average PVC-U window frame and taking out 5,000 of the 25,480 tonnes that would include other waste PVC building products from refurbishments, such as roofline, cladding, window boards and ducting.

“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,” commented Jane Gardner, of Axion Consulting, Recovinyl’s UK agents.

“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,” continued Jane.

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

Godfrey Arnold, of PVC market research company D & G Consulting, acknowledged the figure as a ‘conservative estimate’, adding: “Nonetheless, these statistics present a very positive picture of the PVC industry’s recycling success. Given the growing demand for recycled content in new PVC products, we can only expect these volumes to rise in the future.”

Increasing use of recycled PVC-U content in a variety of new building products, from cladding and roofline products to reinforcement for PVC-U windows, and the growth of new end markets has contributed to Recovinyl’s continued success since the scheme’s 2005 launch in the UK.

“This recycling record adds considerable strength to the role of PVC windows in sustainable construction,” commented 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.”

Jane added: “Recovinyl remains at the heart of the PVC industry’s drive for greater sustainability and to encourage more companies to recycle, rather than landfill, their PVC-U waste with associated economic and environmental benefits.”

As the PVC industry’s recycling scheme, Recovinyl is also an initiative of VinylPlus, the ten-year Voluntary Commitment of the European PVC industry, which is tackling the sustainability challenges for PVC and delivery of fresh recycling targets to 2020. These targets include 800,000 tonnes to be re-used in all European countries by 2020 – with 700,000 tonnes mechanically recycled and the rest using new technologies for more difficult-to-recycle or contaminated PVC.

Axion Consulting is part of the Axion Group that develops and optimises processing and collection methods to recover value from waste resources for a wide range of clients within the recycling and process industries. Contact Axion Consulting on 0161 426 7731 or visit the website at www.axionconsulting.co.uk.

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