“The future is ‘now’ for sustainability” article written recently by Windows Active editor, John Cowie, couldn’t have put it clearer. Now is the time for an injection of urgency when it comes to the world’s pursuit for sustainability. And our sector has an important role to play in leading the way, as buildings and construction are responsible for 39% of all carbon emissions in the world.

But, windows? Surely they aren’t the sole answer to the prospect of all glaciers disappearing within 200 years? Admittedly not, but at Camden we do share The World Green Building Council’s bold vision for how building and infrastructure can achieve 100% net zero emissions by 2050. Shifting of blame or responsibility will not cut it for the scale of the challenge we face – all people, sectors, communities and nations each have their own role to play.

As Camden is the largest PVCu trade manufacturer in the UK and Ireland, producing up to 10,000 windows and door frames per week, we know it’s important that we practice what we preach. So much so, our industry-leading advancements over recent years have resulted in us becoming one of the most environmentally-sustainable organisations in our sector. How have we done that? Well, our recycling plants are the key.

Having recently opened our second PVCu recycling plant, we now reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by 160 tonnes a week. Partners and trade customers supply old and used PVCu windows and doors which are ground down into powder, to form recycled profiles – resulting in almost 42,000 tonnes of waste PVCu being recycled over the past five years.

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Our Inliten product is then manufactured using 80% recycled content. Whilst the industry average of recycled PVCu used in products is estimated at 15-30%, our product shows that industry sights can be set far higher for sustainability credentials.

There may be some work to do to increase awareness within the general public about the exceptional quality and availability of sustainable products, but our 15-year guarantee certainly helps with this. We’re also working with the Carbon Trust to establish a ‘Carbon Trust Footprint Label’ accreditation on our A-rated windows – a standard that businesses across the industry will be able to embrace.

Plastic is quite rightly big news right now, but it is important that PVCu is not tarnished with the same brush as single-use plastic items. Not all components from frames can be recycled on site, but we’re doing all we can to enable a closed-loop system.

For example, by partnering with Invest NI and its Industrial Symbiosis, we’re keeping waste away from landfill wherever possible. The programme sources companies willing to buy leftover product for innovative uses, and our PVCu waste is being used to create rubber cow mats and equestrian flooring. A great example of how we can work together across different sectors to improve sustainability.

Recycle and re-use often receive the most lip-service around sustainability initiatives. However, it’s also important not to forget the reduce aspect.

Camden are currently working with Haffner Murat on a multi-million-pound investment into high-speed machine centres, plus welding and assembly lines. This will further enhance the accuracy of the cut and preparation of our products, to minimise waste produced during the manufacturing process.

‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ is the common, long-standing, mantra. However this has often been in pursuit of a sustainable future that seems so far in the future it’s difficult to appreciate. But, when we consider recent opinion that it could even be our children’s children that are directly affected by current climate change events – urgency comes to the fore.

Our window of opportunity is now.

Roy Harrison – Head of Sales at Camden Group

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