When your UPVC windows reach the end of their useful life, how can you dispose of them responsibly? There is a widespread belief that UPVC window recycling is not realistic due to the toxic chemicals that are released during the process. In fact this is untrue: UPVC can be recycled safely, and today UPVC recycling is a routine operation that saves thousands of tonnes of scrap from landfill. We’re here to dispel the myths: read on to find out the facts about UPVC window recycling.
PVC, PVCu, UPVC: what do these terms mean? You may have heard more than one of these acronyms and wonder what they stand for, and what the difference is.
PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride. It’s a lightweight plastic that is used for many purposes. Sometimes, plasticisers are added to PVC. These change the properties of the PVC, making it softer and bendier. With added plasticisers, PVC can be used for a variety of purposes including clothing and flooring.
If no plasticisers are added to the PVC, the material remains rigid and is known as unplasticised polyvinyl chloride. The standard term is actually now PVCU, but both refer to the same substance. In this form, when combined with certain additives, it is commonly used to make PVCU windows and doors.
Can UPVC be recycled?
The properties of UPVC that make it so suitable for windows and doors mean that it is not as readily recycled as natural materials like wood. It does not biodegrade or rot (so is extremely weatherproof) and does not stretch or expand in damp weather.
However, if heated to very high temperatures (above 150 degrees Celsius), it can be reshaped easily and therefore recycled. In fact, PVC can be recycled as many as 8 times!
When considering UPVC window recycling, it is of course important to remember that any sealants, building materials and other external materials are removed before the UPVC is melted down.
UPVC window disposal: is recycling the best option?
Because UPVC is a plastic, there is understandable concern about whether recycling it is the most environmentally safe and friendly way to dispose of it.
However, today’s UPVC window recycling industry uses a tried and tested process that has demonstrable environmental benefits, reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfill, and saving energy and resources that would otherwise be spent producing more UPVC material.
According to Vinyl Plus, the European body committed to sustainable PVC, using recycled PVC in the manufacture of windows and doors has contributed to energy savings of up to 50%.
If you are still concerned about the environmental impact of UPVC window recycling, it’s worth considering UPVC’s long life and excellent thermal properties (meaning less waste because it doesn’t need replacing often, and less energy spent heating your home). Fully accredited, with an energy efficiency licence from the British Fenestration Ratings Council, we at Just Windows can advise you on any environmental issues you would like to discuss.
If you have any questions about UPVC window recycling or would simply like to discuss your options when choosing windows and doors, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact us today on 0800 132 510.