Chris Coxon, Head of Marketing at Eurocell plc, says that the fenestration sector has to start acting to improve sustainability.
With the Government’s ambitious 2006 pledge to make all new-build homes zero carbon by
2016 scrapped in 2015, the UK still has a long way to go when it comes to sustainable
Despite this, the construction trade is aware that they are serving an increasingly socially
aware and environmentally conscious public. This has led to the sector talking about ways
that it can meet the growing demands of its customers. From reducing its levels of waste, to
how it can recycle more materials and do more to reduce its impact on the environment, it's
a conversation that has been going on for the best part of a decade. Yet still, in light of the
2006 pledge being scrapped, the sector is slow to actually take action.
The amount of waste simply makes all the talk of sustainability appear to be little more than
hollow words. The reality is that it is simply a matter of identifying achievable targets. Take
for instance window frames; 7 million of these are replaced every year with 80% being made
from PVC-U, a material that is perceived as non-recyclable. As such, the vast majority of
these discarded, non-bio-degradable frames find their way to landfill, contributing a hefty
amount to the industry's overall waste levels.
This is the result of the misconception that PVC-U, like many plastics, is non-recyclable,
when actually it's a construction material that can have its lifetime significantly extended to
help reduce waste.
This means that PVC-U can be re-processed and used to manufacture products of equal
quality, creating an ‘upstream’ recycling process. This recycling process is one that every
PVC-U product can go through up to ten times, meaning that the lifespan of the average
PVC-U product can be extended from 35 years to 350.
What’s more, this isn’t a case of PVC-U being recyclable in theory – it can and is being done.
Over the past ten years Eurocell has invested approximately £10 million in developing PVC-U
recycling capabilities and now has a state-of-the-art recycling plant.
We’ve also put in place a logistics operation to collect units for recycling. This includes a free
pick-up service that utilises the existing fleet to return end-of-life frames to the recycling
plant in Derbyshire.
Headed up by industry influencers and experts, we have launched our Rethink / Recycle
campaign to share our efforts and encourage more people to get on board the recycling
As a result, in 2017 alone, Eurocell recycled over 1 million PVC-U post-consumer window
frames, meaning that since 2009 it has stopped 61,500 tonnes of end-of-life PVC-U ending-
up in landfill. What's more, we’ve developed eight new product lines that are produced from
recycled plastic that have played an integral role in us growing our turnover and profit.
It’s a shared responsibility and it’s up to all of us to get our recycling processes in line. From
production, to housebuilders who should demand nothing less than the most sustainable
products, we all need to act with a sense of duty and a respect to the environment.