“Sustainability should be built in,” poll reveals

Though sustainability is a concern for UK homeowners when it comes to choosing windows and doors, they won’t pay more, according to new research. While more than three quarters (77%) of respondents indicated that sustainability was important, only 31% would be willing to pay more for recycled windows and doors. The majority would only pay an extra 10%. More than half of the people surveyed had their windows changed in the past five years.

The OnePoll survey, commissioned by Veka plc, found that when it comes to home improvements, consumers feel that sustainability should be a given. The results signal a dramatic shift in attitude when compared to research carried out by Veka in 2018, the business says.

Four years ago, homeowners didn’t feel passionately about the eco-credentials of their new windows. What has remained consistent is that 77% of respondents want to see their old windows recycled, rather than end up in landfill.

Veka carries out regular surveys, on behalf of customers, to capture homeowners’ attitudes around key areas and identify opportunities. This latest study asked 2,000 UK homeowners for their views on recycling and sustainability.

Of the respondents who had their windows changed in the last five years, 71% stated that they never discussed sustainability with their installer. This was backed up by the fact that price, quality, and looks were all considered to be of higher importance than a product’s environmental credentials.

59% of respondents admitted that they wouldn’t be put off carrying out their planned home improvements due to fears of them not being ‘eco-friendly’. The research suggests that this muddled mindset comes down to conscience, and provides a huge opportunity when it comes to installers differentiating themselves from the competition.

When asked why sustainability was important to homeowners, the answers that ranked highest were: “Because everyone has to do their bit”, “It could have a big impact on the environment”, and “I like to care for the planet”. Yet, only 12% consider their property “very sustainable”, again suggesting that, if presented today with two similar products, similarly priced, they would opt for the eco-friendlier option.

While many understand the difference between ‘bad’ plastics and ‘good’ plastics, Veka has called for more to be done, across the whole industry, to help support installers in delivering this message. Neil Evans, Veka plc’s managing director, said: “Homeowners put a great deal of trust in their installers, that they are promoting and installing products which are ethically sourced and will dispose of their old doors and windows in a responsible way. Installers who simply have the sustainability conversation with the homeowner could win the job over those who don’t.

“Veka acknowledges its duty to support customers and positively engage in the conversation. We join other systems companies who have acknowledged that we need to bring the ‘good plastics’ story to the homeowner, for the good of the PVC-U industry, and the environment.

“Our research shows that homeowners believe that sustainability should be built in, which is why they are reluctant to pay a premium for the privilege. At Veka, we don’t believe in eco-ranges, because we believe every product we produce should be manufactured in as sustainable and ethical a manner as possible.

“Analysing this type of data is crucial in understanding homeowner attitudes, but it’s the steps we take next that matter most. This year, Veka has committed to creating a new suite of homeowner literature, in which the sustainability message will feature prominently.

“We also encourage installers to use Veka Recycling. Europe’s most advanced Recycling Centre is right here in Britain, and avoids landfill. The partnership we had during the pandemic meant that we could continue to be a reliable source of supply, despite raw material shortages, and helped us win Best Sustainability Initiative at last year’s G21 Awards.

“What this innovative process does is close the loop on PVC-U recycling, meaning old windows and doors can be recycled, reprocessed and the material used to manufacture new ones, that boast the exact same high quality as before. We can only do that though if our installers put these old windows and doors back into the supply chain, in essence, securing their own supply while also strengthening their own offer to their customers.”