PVC is 100% recyclable
Within Swish Building Products, considerable investment has taken place to identify and recycle all production waste including start-up waste, damages and even saw dust from inline saws. Everything that can be recycled is recycled, and only under unusual circumstances is any material sent to land fill. On average, Swish cellular PVC products contain 8% recycled material.
Within the PVC construction products sector generally, recycling rates for production waste are high. A study conducted by AJI Europe in 2005 found that within the EU15, production waste from window and door manufacturers, represented less than 10% of their total output and 96% of that waste was recycled onsite.
Swish is part of a large building products group that owns a recycling facility which currently recycles approximately 18000 tonnes of off cuts from window and door per annum.
Post Consumer recycling of PVC roofline and cladding systems is relatively simple. The only non-PVC components that require removal are stainless steel nails and screws. The boards can then be ground and pulverised in the same way that production waste is recycled..
The longevity of Swish cellular PVC roofline and cladding products has meant that to date there has not been any significant volume of post consumer material that has become available for recycling. Swish is part of the Epwin group of companies that owns PVC recycling facilities, and plans are in place to identify and attract this waste stream when eventually it begins to flow.
The European PVC Industry is currently funding several approaches to developing the infrastructure for post consumer recycling. These cover all types and qualities of PVC. Of most relevance to the construction industry is the Recovinyl scheme. It brings together recyclers and demolition/construction companies, providing a strong financial incentive to all parties to take part in the process rather than resort to land fill. The Recovinyl scheme has met all its growth targets to date and is firmly on track to meet the recycling targets made by the PVC industry in the Vinyl 2010 commitment.
Treated and rotted timber cannot be recycled but must be sent to land fill where it degrades and eventually gives up its ‘carbon store’.
This aspect of timber specification can easily be overlooked in the desire to embrace what is a natural material, and a renewable material, but is by no means the most sustainable material for this application.
Treated timber is classified as hazardous waste because of the chemical content of the preservatives used. It therefore requires special handling and disposal.