Tradespeople: What impact are you having on the environment?

Refusing to use single-use straws and carrying a bag for life are great ways to help reduce the impact you’re having on the environment, but as people that work in the construction industry, there’s a bigger issue we need to tackle.  

We’re rapidly running out of landfill space in the UK, with the construction industry contributing significantly. In fact, 32% of total waste in landfill comes from the construction industry, totalling 120 million tonnes each year. Considering the industry as a whole only uses 420 million tonnes, this is a shocking figure. 

Each year, it’s estimated that another eight million tonnes of plastic finds its way into the ocean - the vast majority of it in the form of ‘single-use’ plastic products like straws, cups, drinks bottles and carrier bags. This is less than 7% of the waste the construction industry creates.  

So, let’s look at the fenestration industry. In the UK alone, approximately 7 million windows are replaced each year, with 80% of these made from PVC-U, but these don’t have to end up in landfill. In 2009, we launched our 60,000 sq ft recycling plant, as part of our drive to decrease plastic waste in the industry and recycle end-of-life PVC-U frames. 

Our recycling facility allows the entire lifespan of a window profile to be more sustainable. When windows reach the end of their life, they are shredded, granulated and micronised. Using the granulated PVC-U, we then extrude new PVC-U profiles. This process can be repeated up to ten times using the same material with no degradation in quality, meaning a window profile can have a lifespan of up to 350 year. In fact the first 4-5 times PVC-U is recycled it actually gets stronger!

What can you do to help?

At Eurocell, we have the ability to recycle large amounts, we just need to ensure profiles that have removed from a property come back through our doors for recycling. To do this, we have set up three ways to retrieve end-of-life PVC-U:

1.We provide waste material storage containers free of charge to our manufacturer customers. Our transport fleet then collects the material when making new product deliveries

2.For non-customers, we also have a network of drivers able to pick up end-of-life PVC-U for returning to the recycling plant

3.Finally, a ‘drop off’ service allows installers to return end-of-life PVC-U frames to their local Eurocell branch. With 200 branches around the UK, this creates a low carbon method of moving material around

Does it work?

In a word – yes! From July to September 2018, we processed a record breaking 28,000 post consumer frames each week and this September, we produced over 1,000 tonnes of products made from post-consumer recycled material. As a result of this achievement, we’re currently on track to massively exceed our 2017 performance of preventing over one million end-of-life frames entering landfill. We also have eight product ranges manufactured from recycled PVC-U, meaning you’re helping with sustainability by installing our products too.

To help support our current recycling facility, we acquired another recycling plant this year, which means we can recycle even more post-use PVC-U and reduce the amount of waste the construction industry sends to landfill.

If the whole industry gets on board and helps with this, we can make a huge impact in reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfill. If you have any other methods, let us know in the comments below.

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