Our industry, like so many others, has a lot of work to do to reduce carbon emissions and our impacts on the environment. One major area that needs work is the production and consumption of materials. PVC is the one material that gets the most scrutiny. The resin used to make PVC is a byproduct of petrol production, which requires oil out of the ground and we already all how damaging that whole business is.

However, the world of PVC has taken a significant step towards reducing the carbon footprint of PVC production. And it comes from wood.

76% less carbon

This new type of PVC is called BIOVYN™ and is made by INOVYN, which is owned by INEOS. Instead of being made from the leftovers of oil production, this new type of PVC is made from the residue leftover from the wood pulp process.

Here are some key extracts taken from an INEOS article on the announcement:

BIOVYN™, a new generation of PVC – made from the residue of the wood pulp process, instead of purely gas and oil – is about to make the next generation proud. It has been commandeered for a new ‘fossil-free’ pre-school in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, which has ambitious plans to cut the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2050…

…“We have managed to lower the carbon footprint for these pipe installations by no less than 76%,” said Pipelife project manager Ove Söderberg.

The beauty of BIOVYN™, although more expensive than conventional PVC, is twofold.

It is not only made primarily from a renewable raw material not competing with the food chain but, compared to conventionally-produced PVC, greenhouse gas emissions are cut by more than 90% during production.

You can read the full article from INEOS here.

This new type of PVC was actually introduced in 2019, so although the news of this product isn’t new, in the timeline of PVC this is pretty fresh. Given the very pressing need for all of us to radically change how go about our lives, it is the introduction of products like this that needs to be embraced and adopted.

The project that BIOVYN™ is being used on is for PVC pipes at a school in Sweden in a city that is aiming for 75% fewer emissions by 2050. So whilst these pilot projects aren’t exactly a mass rollout, it is these early projects that signal the change that our industry needs to make.

INEOS acknowledged in the article that it is more expensive to make than the previous version of PVC. This is often the case with any new technology. The securing of the supply of enough of raw material plays a big part in this. However, as more of it does become available over time and demand rises for this new version then hopefully costs will start to come down.

This is an exciting development for the future of PVC. We have the ability to come away from PVC by way of oil production, one of the most damaging processes on the planet.

Wider effort

Whilst this certainly is a huge development for PVC as a building material, it won’t single-handedly solve every problem. It will have an impact of course, potentially a major one in the production of virgin material. But it seems fanciful to think it will replace all PVC in the entire supply chain within construction. So it has to play its part within a wider network of environmentally friendly initiatives by fenestration.

Recycling of post-consumer PVC frames perhaps has the most immediate and significant impact. We have to move to a closed-loop manufacturing system as quickly and as broadly as we can. There are enough frames in circulation now to meet much of the demand from the general public for new windows and doors. Each year millions of frames are taken out of homes and replaced with new ones. Every single one of those frames needs to make it to any number of recycling facilities across the country to be broken down and returned back to raw material form so it can be used in the production of new profile. Research has shown us that we have nothing to fear in the quality of recycled profile, in fact, there is no material degradation during each recycling process. This is according to research carried out by Eurocell, which you can read more on here. Imagine having all that new profile available right now. More material available in the supply chain would have been very useful in 2020 as the industry struggled to cope with demand and some companies running low on profile.

This matters for all material types in our sector too. PVC gets a lot of attention as its a plastic, but timber, aluminium and glass all have their parts to play. BIOVYN™ though represents a big leap forward in the production of one of the most used building materials around the world.

To understand how the fenestration sector is helping to tackle climate change be sure to check out DGB E.C.O: https://www.doubleglazingblogger.com/dgb-e-c-o/

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