Over the last couple of days on Twitter there has been some excellent debate about which material is best when it comes to fenestration. There have been good arguments for both PVCu and aluminium, which was then expanded to timber as well with an excellent comment from Peter Dyer.

But there was a tweet from @LKF74 a couple of nights ago which got me to thinking: @Finessewindows @glazingblogger @nigelgrantupvc it’s about being involved in a sustainable industry, which the PVC market is not…

In a way he is right, and in a way he is wrong. When he says the PVC industry isn’t a sustainable one, he is right in the sense that the industry cannot survive while it relies on oil as it’s main source of raw material. The price of a barrel of oil is going up steadily every month which over time is going to have an impact on the price of raw polymer, and in turn, PVC profile. Transport costs are constantly going up, with petrol and diesel prices never being higher than they are right now. Again, having an impact on the cost of our goods.

In a way he is also wrong. The PVCu industry is in a prime position to become one of the most sustainable industries in fenestration. PVC can be recycled at least ten times, meaning the original raw materials can stay in the production chain for a good 350 years. What the industry needs to do, and what companies like Eurocell are already doing, is to start harvesting post consumer waste on a large scale, build dedicated recycling plants and use the old material to make new eco-friendly windows. Manufacturers would also save on buying new materials and all the other related costs that come with it.

It has now been discovered that the same PVCu polymers made form oil can be made from oils harvested from sustainable crops. As more and more of these crops appear all over the country the industry could use these crops to their advantage.

What is clear, is that the PVC industry is going to need to adapt and start being creative in the raw material department if it is to remain top of the pile when it comes to market domination. Our reliance on oil and the impending weening of our independence on it is going to force us to rethink how we make our windows and doors.