Window frames are made from various materials, probably the biggest competitors include wood and uPVC - unplasticized polyvinyl chloride, a type of plastic that does not contain Bisphenol A and phthalates. While some argue that using timber contributes to deforestation, an extensive study a couple of years ago found interesting outcomes. When comparing the entire life of different timber frames with uPVC ones, they discovered that the latter has unquestionably the worst environmental impact in almost all categories (e.g. human toxicity, global warming, ozone layer depletion). This is the result of a process in which uPVC is made, mainly thanks to higher levels of energy consumption. Moreover, this material does not decompose.
However, vinyl windows are widely used and popular, primarily because of low price and maintenance requirements. They also have great insulating properties, are sturdy and durable. As the material does not decay, the best option to avoid disposing uPVC windows to the landfill is to recycle them. First, the material is collected and ground into small particles. These can be then separated by colour, followed by multiple stages of removing impurities, such as metals or silica. The by-products of this process can be used for other building-related applications. Lastly, clean granulated material may be further ground into a powder or pelletized and used for the production of new windows, doors, pipes and so on.
Recycled plastic windows are much more considerate to the environment and support the circular economy. Reused material serves as a raw material, thus, prevents consumption of other valuable natural resources. Additionally, recycling uPVC requires less energy, and as it.