Eco plastic – Why you shouldn’t be afraid to use PVC-U
When it comes to choosing a new door or set of windows for your home, it’s easy to think of wood as being your only eco-friendly choice. However, PVC-U not only lasts longer and requires far less maintenance, it’s also arguably better for the environment!
Is Natural Always Best?
Timber may be ‘natural’, but that’s not the same as eco-friendly. Unscrupulous companies may resort to illegal logging in order to increase profits, and it’s happening right on your doorstep – the EU is believed to cause almost $3billion of the global $10-15billion loss caused by illegal logging each year due to trading with countries such as Indonesia, where 73% of timber is believed to come from illegal sources. (WWF)
PVC-U on the other hand may be man-made, but it’s 100% recyclable – not just once but again and again, and again! If you buy PVC-U window frames now you know that when they reach the end of their lifespan they can be recycled into brand new window frames. Indeed, generations down the line some reincarnation of your PVC-U windows could be sitting on the side of another home looking bright and new all over again.
In fact, in 2007 the UK alone recycled over 42,000 tonnes of used PVC-U windows and doors (Windseal), with these recycled materials returning to the market as brand new products in as little as 30 days. (University of Bristol)
How PVC-U is recycled.
Not only can they be recycled, but whilst they’re on the side of your house PVC-U fittings are doing their bit for the environment too – more PVC-U windows are A-rated in the Window Energy Rating Scheme than any other type of window (PCV Aware), reducing energy loss and cutting your carbon footprint.
PVC-U – The Safest Plastic Around
Despite all of this evidence, some people are still wary of using PVC-U since plastics traditionally have a reputation for being ‘unnatural’ or ‘unsafe’. This is far from the truth however when it comes to PVC-U, which is considered so safe that it’s used to make bottles for drinking water, cling film to wrap around your food and even blood-bags in hospitals! (Windseal)
So if disposing of and recycling PVC-U can be achieved in a perfectly sustainable way, what of producing it in the first place?
There are also worries about the amount of dioxins –toxic environmental pollutants – released during the production of PVC-U. Yes, PVC-U production does create a small amount of dioxins, but to put it into context a typical European PVC production plant would need to operate for 30,000 years to create the same amount of dioxins as the upcoming bonfire night fires will release in one day! (Windseal)
Over 90% of human exposure to these toxins comes from diet alone (Green Facts) and they are not even listed amongst the biggest contributors of dioxins to the environment (Dioxin Facts and Ping) – PCP in timber processes and wood combustion produce far more. In summary, the dioxin levels of PVC-U production are simply not high enough to pose any real threat to humans or to the environment.
Ensure Your Old Windows & Doors Will Be Recycled
Still not convinced? As well as being environmentally sustainable, PVC-U creates economic stability thanks to the number of jobs its production creates and the fact that we will never stop recycling and reusing the PVC-U in circulation. If you incinerate 10,000 tons of waste you create one job, if you dump it in landfill you create 6 jobs, but if you recycle it you create 36 jobs as well as avoiding environmental pollution! (University of Bristol)
It’s no wonder then really that over 85% of all building and refurbishment projects now use PVC-U windows (Windseal). If you’re considering installing a new front door or having your old PVC-U windows replaced, be sure to check how the installer will be disposing of your old PVC-U fittings.
Plastics can take up to 500 years to decompose (Recycling Guide) and since 100% of PVC-U can be recycled, there really is no excuse for companies to be sending your old windows and doors to landfill or to be incinerated. Make sure you choose an installer that sends old PVC-U products to a company such as Merritt Plastics who will recycle them into tiny granules, ready to be transformed into a new set of windows or perhaps something else entirely!