At Eurocell, we’re completely committed to recycling, and have been for over 15 years. A commitment that’s seen us invest over £10 million in the last decade and made us the UK’s leading recycler of UPVC, bar none.
In fact, in 2019 alone we recycled the equivalent of 3.2 million frames, keeping 10s of 10,000s of tonnes of UPVC out of the landfill and putting it back into production. That's the equivalent of 3,700 double-decker buses!
It’s all down to the ‘closed loop’ recycling process we operate via Eurocell Recycling – a company we created in 2018 solely to provide a dedicated collection and recycling brand to service not just our customers, but our whole industry. By utilising this system, we’re able to put more and more recycled material into the production of new doors, windows, conservatories and building products than ever before, keeping more waste than ever out of the environment.
But have you ever wondered exactly what goes on in our recycling centres? What happens to all those window frames and UPVC offcuts once they’re driven through the factory gates? And what exactly does ‘closed loop’ recycling involve?
If you have, we’d like to tell you all about it.
Our recycling locations.
All our recycling is carried out in two purpose-built centres. Our first, which has been in operation since 1995, is in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. Over the years, as the sheer volume of waste UPVC we were collecting and re-introducing to the manufacturing process grew, it became clear we needed to increase our capacity.
So in 2018, we acquired an already existing recycling business, Ecoplas, (formerly the largest independent PVC-U recycler in the country), in Selby, Yorkshire. Together, as Eurocell Recycling, these two sites service the waste management needs of customers across the UK, giving us one of the most innovative and advanced recycling processes in the industry.
Add to this our national collection service and it means we’re now bringing in frames, doors, conservatories and a host of other UPVC building products to be recycled from customers all over the UK.
Eurocell’s closed loop recycling process
Our closed loop recycling system means we can provide end-to-end materials sustainability in our industry. Put simply, this means we collect old UPVC window frames and every single piece of plastic waste created in our factories and re-introduce them into the production process, literally creating brand new windows, doors, conservatories and UPVC building materials from waste that may have previously gone into landfill.
When old frames and waste are delivered to our recycling centres, they are first shredded and processed to remove impurities. Metal fragments are extracted with a powerful electromagnet, while rubber and other material are separated using a suspension bath.
Next, the waste stream is sorted by colour. High speed cameras scan each individual UPVC fragment and precise blasts of air separate non-white and white waste into individual streams.
Finally, the remaining waste is granulated to form small UPVC pellets, or pulverised to create UPVC powder. This material is then sent back to our factory to begin life again as new doors, windows and building products.
This method, known as mechanical recycling, is currently the most efficient method of processing UPVC waste. Because we operate our plants to the very highest standards of efficiency and productivity, and because we screen the quality of the waste we take in thoroughly, it allows us to produce a recycled end product of the very highest quality.
Not just that: it also allows us to repurpose over 12,000 tonnes of reclaimed PVC-U and recycle 3,000 tonnes of our production waste every year. Meaning less plastic waste in our countryside, rivers and oceans; less reliance on oil and other fossils fuels for raw materials; and lower emissions as a result.
It’s also worth noting that PVC-U windows can be recycled up to ten times, which gives them a potential lifespan of 300 years. Imagine how many painted wood frames, (which can’t be recycled), will be disposed of in that time. Or how much energy would be used in recycling aluminum units, (a much less environmentally-friendly process).
What’s more, all our products are manufactured in the UK and all our recycling is carried out here too (some companies ship there UPVC waste to Europe for recycling), helping our country’s economy and reducing our carbon footprint to help the environment.
Why recycling matters
It can’t be overstated that the planet’s resources aren’t infinite and that it’s massively important that of every one of us uses those resources as responsibly as possible.
It’s because of this simple but inescapable fact that Eurocell takes recycling so seriously and why we are totally committed to investing still more in the process for many years to come.
Our recycling systems have kept hundreds of thousands of tonnes of UPVC waste in the production loop and out of landfill over the past decade, but we’re equally committed to the future.
Recycling means that, rather than extracting the oil required for the production of every kind of plastic from the earth, we’re extracting hundreds of years of use from the oil we’ve already taken when we manufactured our original products.
Recycling is better business all round
But we’re not just doing what’s best for the planet. We’re doing what’s best for all the businesses we help recycle by providing the facilities to collect and re-use every single piece of UPVC waste that every manufacturer, supplier and fitter in the UK needs to dispose of every week of every year.
We believe we’re all responsible for our environment and that recycling is the biggest contribution our industry can make to conserving that environment for the future.
In fact, we’re not only leading the way for recycling in our industry. In 2018 we were named Manufacturer of the Year at the highly respected MRW National Recycling Awards.
These awards are presented in recognition of best practice and innovation in recycling and waste management across a range of sectors, including public, private and food and drink. So, in a highly competitive and varied field, Eurocell came first.
It’s a position we feel we deserve and one we’re committed to maintaining. Because to us, the future of the world we live in comes first before anything else.