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BRE - UPVC Best For The Environment

8 August 2008

Here Eurocell Profiles takes a look at the reasons why PVC-u continues to be the environmental choice.

PVC-u windows and doors make a valuable contribution to sustainable developments and the fact that the BRE (Building Research Establishment) recently awarded PVC-u windows an ‘A’ rating for domestic and A+ for commercial properties in its 2008 Green Guide to Sustainability, went a long way to providing independent verification of this fact.

For a long time, PVC-u has been highly regarded for its durability, low maintenance, performance and value for money. When used in windows and doors PVC-u is one of the most rigid polymers at normal ambient temperatures and shows little deterioration after many years of service (BRE estimate the life of PVC-u windows at 35 years in its 2008 Green Guide). In addition to these properties, the BRE also awarded the top rating to PVC-u because of its recycled content. In actual fact, PVC-u extruders have been recycling the material for many years, mainly because it helped reduce their carbon footprint, but also because it made sound economic sense.

One of the characteristics of PVC-u that make it possible to recycle on a large scale is that it can be ground into pellets, which can then be re-heated and moulded into new products (BRE again estimates that PVC can be recycled 7 times over a 200 year lifespan). There are now products on the market that are made from 100 per cent recycled PVC-u and our cavity closer is an excellent example of this, which indicates how far the industry has advanced in the last few years.

The PVC-u industry continues to invest large amounts of resources into improving its recycling activities. For many, the start point was always going to be the waste material generated during the manufacturing process. There is also much development work going into the recycling of post-consumer frames when they are replaced on site. Eurocell also purchases waste material from other sources, improving the ‘green’ credentials of our operations one step more.

Many businesses in the PVC-u industry have already implemented ISO14001, the internationally recognized environmental standard. By taking this a step further, we have set up teams within our operation to focus on improving environmental ratings even further. The results are already beginning to show and we have already recycling around 2,896 tonnes of material in the last 12 months.

Many fabricators are also beginning to recycle PVC-u. A good example of this is JSS Installations in Barnsley. A Eurocell fabricator for many years, the company has adopted its own ‘Passion for Recycling’, which not only helps reduce costs but helps them secure new business. With many local authorities indicating that they will soon require 85 per cent of the material on site to be recycled, Passion for Recycling initiatives have been proven to help fabricators win new business.

There is little doubt that the award of an ‘A’ rating for sustainability to PVC-u has been a major breakthrough for the industry and fabricators will be able to use this independent assessment in their sales presentations.

Sustainability is already a major consideration for local authorities and, since the introduction for the Code for sustainable Homes, with private developers. Consumer awareness of environmental issues is also starting to have an effect on the buying decisions and its importance is only going to increase.

BRE awarding an ‘A’ rating has been a huge boost to the PVC-u industry and one that has long been overdue.

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