Installers urged to push window recycling

Material being shredded at PVCR, Runcorn, UK, March 2021. Photo: Professional Images/@ProfImages

The systems company Rehau is encouraging window installers to proactively engage with homeowners about the possibilities of window recycling in the new year. The call follows insights from its pulse survey, completed by Rehau customers, which indicated that the majority of installers (77%) believe consumer awareness is low regarding window recycling. Rehau urges fabricators and installers to monitor changing consumer purchasing priorities and assess how their frames fit into the wider circular economy, to appeal more to homeowners.

Russell Hand, Rehau’s head of technical and product management, said: “Though ensuring frames are environmentally friendly has moved from a niche interest to a greater focus in the past few years, Covid-19 has supercharged this shift in priorities. You only need to look at recent surveys from Samsung to see this changing behaviour in action: 77% of respondents said a sustainable home should now be a priority. Similarly, 79% said they would consider how environmentally friendly their property is before deciding where to live.

“This is by no means an isolated opinion. As far back as October 2020, YouGov polls were showing that 69% of respondents were doing everything they can to minimise their carbon footprint; and 2021 Deloitte research showed half their poll wanting more information on how to recycle.

“Taking into account this constant stream of findings, and in the wake of Cop26, it is clear that windows professionals must take notice of this trend and adapt accordingly. By looking in depth at suppliers’ sustainability credentials, including materials used, initiatives undertaken and how their frames fit into the wider circular economy, they can make informed choices matching their customers’ priorities.”

Russell went on to highlight the critical but often unseen impact that window recycling has on the UK’s sustainability agenda: “Millions of windows are replaced annually across the UK, as they become time-expired or householders look to upgrade, meaning many tonnes of waste have previously gone to landfill. This is clearly unacceptable, which is why suppliers like Rehau have invested eight-figure sums into recycling infrastructure. This includes Rehau’s UK-based state-of-the-art polymer recycling facility, PVCR, which was recently shortlisted in the Circular Economy Initiative – Plastics category at the prestigious National Recycling Awards 2021.

“It is our aim to salvage and process 24,000 tonnes of old PVC window frames – the equivalent of 2,000 double decker buses – by 2024,” Russell concluded. “As such, more needs to be done to raise awareness of recyclability and the circular economy beyond single-use plastic, and demonstrate to the public that windows recycling is now commonplace.

“By doing so, windows professionals will be able to further demonstrate the sustainability of their portfolio to the property owner, providing another means by which they may generate new business. Indeed, in a market that is increasingly focused on going green – as research continually suggests – this knowledge could help installers and fabricators stand out in an increasingly competitive market.”
For more information about Rehau’s sustainability efforts, download the Rehau Sustainability Report 2020 here. For more information about PVCR, visit pvcr.co.uk.