Earlier on today I was pointed to an article on page 100 of the latest digital edition of GGP Mag. It was an article by Danny Williams. He is the MD of Pioneer Trading. His article was about the industry and recycling, but shedding light on what may well be a huge problem.

He was explaining in his article that he found a field in England which had, by his estimate, at least 250 tonnes or 1500 cubic metres of gasket dumped there. Considering our industry should be trying to show itself to be a green, sustainable, responsible industry, a development like this is very concerning.

A bigger problem?

It is posed in the article that this may well be one of various sites across the country where tonnes and tones of gasket has been dumped. If this is indeed the case, this is a worry find, and may well lead some to question if their windows and doors that are being taken away to be recycled are going where they think it should be.

I understand that the topic of recycling isn’t the sexiest thing in the world of windows and doors. You can tell that by the low number of votes in my current poll compared to all my previous ones. But, we as an industry have to get our heads out of our asses and face up to the fact that ours, just like every other industry, has to prove itself to society as being able to adapt and change rapidly to benefit the environment. And that means recycling.

There are some companies making great efforts in which to do so. Deceuninck for example have a huge facility in Belgium which forms part of their closed-loop manufacturing cycle. Eurocell have their plant in Derby, which processed more than 1.2m frames last year. Camden Group recycle 50 tonnes per week, with 80% of their Inliten profile made from recycled materials.

But, there is much, much more to do, and when it comes to sustainability, the PVCu market has the most to prove. It’s still massively ahead in market share of the residential sector, and the public are much more aware of how easy aluminium and timber are to recycle. The PVCu part of our market really needs to get into gear and get in front of the public to not only dispel myths about PVCu, like it not actually being plastic for one. But to also explain and educate people as to why PVCu continues to be a superb building material.

What won’t help however is reports such as those in Danny’s piece about waste gasket being dumped by the ton in fields across the country. Yes it’s not the most easy material in the world to recycle, but it can be done. Companies just have to stop being lethargic and commit to investing in proper facilities.

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I spoke to the guys at Eurocell for their take on this story, and what they do with their own gaskets. Turns out much can be done:

We’re appalled at the sight of these easily recyclable offcuts being dumped. We re-use all of our gasket waste, keeping some to one side to turn into new materials on site with the rest being used by external manufacturers to be turned into new products. As part of our closed loop recycling process we are committed to re-using everything we possibly can in our processes and it’s shocking to see such a large amount of material sat there in a field, when it should be being used again in new products!

Jon Arkley, Eurocell Recycle General Manager

It’s good to see that much can actually be done about old gaskets. Eurocell have been recycling for 15 years, so have been one of the front runners in what is going to be a whole new industry in itself in the coming years.

Which is why it is so disappointing to see hundreds of tonnes of old gasket being dumped in fields, rather than being sent to places which can actually process the stuff.

Eventually, we’re all going to have to tune in to the idea of something called closed-loop manufacturing. Where a product that leaves a factory, in our case a window or door, ends up coming back to the same factory at the end of it’s life to be stripped down, recycled and made into a new window and door again. It cuts out material being sent to landfill, it means the same material made from Earth’s resources are still being used, it means job creation and growth, which means its far better for everyone involved.

We have some way to go, but companies like Deceuninck, who I went to see in March, are already well up on this method of manufacturing and are one of the front runners in the closed-loop method.

Lets hope this case of dumped gasket is only isolated and we don’t see many more of these stories come to light.

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