According to recently released figures, a total of 739,500 tonnes of PVC was recycled across Europe in 2018.
While Germany was the largest contributor to this total, the UK came in second, adding 137,000 tonnes of material for recycling. This equates to 19% of all recycled PVC across Europe.
Recovinyl, the PVC industry’s pan-European recycling scheme, contributed virtually all this amount, delivering 734,500 tonnes of PVC waste for recycling. This was a 15.6% increase in volumes over 2017 figures.
Demand for recycled rigid PVC is currently very high, indicating the potential for growing the collected amount for recycling schemes.
Recovinyl has improved its certification and audit schemes to help ensure the reliability of related data and recyclate traceability, both from recyclers and converters.
Two new UK recyclers working predominantly with rigid PVC have joined the network over the past 12 months, Tecvyn, based in Hull and Recycling PVC, located in Manchester. There are now a total of 24 accredited recyclers across the country.
Across Europe, a total of 11 new recyclers had joined the scheme through the first half of 2019.
Richard McKinlay, head of consulting at resource recovery specialist Axion, Recovinyl’s regional representative for the UK, commented: “Recovinyl is a great success story and there’s still a huge demand for recycled PVC. Much of what is being collected is post-consumer material and we’re doing a really good job in the UK, but we’d like to collect and recycle even more to meet the demand.”
Across Europe, window profiles and other building and construction products accounted for 44% of the total recycled amount of PVC.
McKinley added that optimised cutting technology in the extrusion process has resulted in reduced amounts of post-industrial material for recycling.
“Fabricators have become more efficient at cutting profiles and getting more frames out of their bar lengths. As people get better at reusing offcuts or minimising off-cut material, it’s become even more important to capture more post-consumer material for recycling,” he said.
It’s possible that plastic use across construction could be subjected to the same level of scrutiny as plastic packaging, but McKinley believes that having a suitable recycling infrastructure in place could help show how the industry could “lead the way” in creating a virtuous recycling circle.
The network of recyclers across the UK means that fitters no longer have to throw old window frames into a skip. Instead, the material should be collected for recycling, helping to protect the environment.
The collection of PVC frames and off-cuts would further help build quality and value into the recycled material.
Simon Scholes, MD of VEKA Recycling, one of the first Recovinyl recyclers in the UK, noted that window companies, particularly larger fabricators, are generating less PVC waste.
“Less production waste is a positive thing,” he said. “As the industry has become more professional, it is getting better at collecting waste PVC and sending less to landfill. That’s helping to bring sustainability to the industry as a whole.”
He added: “The material is out there, and we can help companies of all sizes to recycle their waste PVC frames and off-cuts. People are catching onto recycling and attitudes towards this are improving. We’re going in the right direction!”