UK’s First ‘Closed Loop’ PVC-U Window Recycling Project Completed in Manchester

Published: 11th June 2009

UK’s First ‘Closed Loop’ PVC-U Window Recycling Project Completed in Manchester

The UK’s first installation of PVC-U windows, manufactured from 98 per cent recycled old post-consumer end of life PVC-U window frames, has been completed by a Manchester social housing provider.

Northwards Housing, which manages and maintains almost 13,000 properties across the North of the city, completed the pioneering refurbishment program in March.

Delivered by preferred partner and principal contractor, Manchester Working, social housing specialist, Wrekin Windows and New Charter, the project drew on the technical innovation in PVC-U technology to recover and recycle old ‘waste’ material.

Installed in 18 properties, the windows frames were manufactured solely from old end of life recycled material, other than for a thin virgin foiled ‘skin’, added to ensure colour uniformity. This represents a first for the social housing sector but also marks a significant leap forward in PVC-U building material sustainability.

This old material was recovered and reprocessed by Wrekin Windows and its sister companies, leading PVC-U recycler Dekura and window systems leader Profile 22, both part of the Epwin Group, from the replacement of windows on a nearby tower block.

Elliot Simm, home improvement service manager, Northwards Housing, said: “We have two main priorities: to improve the properties that we manage to make them a more, comfortable and secure home environment for our residents and second, to manage and maintain those properties sustainably.

“We have committed to a wholesale replacement of single glazed timber windows across our portfolio with energy efficient PVC-U windows and doors and this pilot project sits within that program.

“The recovery, reprocessing and ultimately installation of new PVC-U windows manufactured from what was waste material from our earlier tower block refurbishment by lead contractor Manchester Working, Wrekin and our other supply partners, is testimony to our commitment to drive sustainable practices throughout our estates management program.

“More widely, we believe that it represents a significant step forward for sustainability in refurbishment in social housing but also PVC-U as a building material.”

The Dekura service is unique in the UK, able to offer a post-consumer end of life recycling service in addition to the reprocessing of manufacturing off-cuts. A fully accredited member of Recovinyl, the recycler also offers full cycle traceability on all of the material that it collects.

This allows social housing providers and contractors to follow old material through the recycling process, providing demonstrable and auditable trail that can be used to support the site waste management planning process.

PVC-U windows have achieved top ratings with an ‘A+’ rating for commercial and ‘A’ rating for domestic windows in the Building Research Establishments Green Guide, to building material sustainability published in the summer.

Energy efficient, low maintenance and fully recyclable, the guide recognises that PVC-U products can play an important part alongside other materials in modern construction.

David Wrigley, technical director, Dekura said: “Massive advances have been made in PVC-U sustainability in the past 10 years. It’s still low maintenance, its energy efficient and it can be and is being recycled.

“What is now critical is that we are able to intercept waste material at end of life and that means working with the social housing sector to make sure that as part of their refurbishment programmes they make sure that the supply partners they select have the capacity to recycle post-consumer waste and are committed to doing so as part of project delivery.”

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