PVC-U systems house, Rehau, is calling on fabricators and installers to ‘act on shifts toward sustainability-focused buying habits’ in order to ‘stand out in a competitive market’.
A survey, completed by Rehau customers, indicated that the majority of installers (77%) believe consumer awareness to be low regarding window recycling. The message from Rehau is that both fabricators and installers should ‘monitor changing consumer purchasing priorities’ and consider how their frames fit into the wider circular economy to appeal more to homeowners.
Russell Hand, head of Technical and Product Management at Rehau Windows, 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, in which 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 windows recycling has on the UK’s sustainability agenda, and how highlighting this topic may help put eco-conscious homeowners’ minds at ease. Specifically, he drew attention to increased investment in material recycling infrastructure across the industry to further bolster the circular economy of windows materials.
He added: “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 concludes. “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.”