Will recycled windows be banned?

Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell reports on a recent European Development.

The EU’s Environment Committee has objected to a proposal to allow lead in recycled PVC, which could have a significant impact on manufacturing PVCU windows from post-consumer waste that would otherwise go to landfill.

It was decided that the proposed amendments do not protect human health and the environment enough, which is also the primary objective of the Reach (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation.

The committee said recycling should not justify the continued use of hazardous substances, as prevention takes priority over recycling.

Lead in PVC has been phased out in the EU since 2015 due to the EU PVC industry’s voluntary commitment, but lead in PVC continues to enter the EU via imported products.

Eurocell, which has invested significantly in its recycling operation in the UK, told Glass Times that it is committed to manufacturing and recycling in the UK, and it was surprised and disappointed by the EU Parliament’s initial response to the EU Commission‘s proposal particularly as the only alternatives are that frames will have to be sent to landfill or incineration.

“Additionally, there will be a huge carbon impact as virgin polymer will have to be used to replace this tonnage,” Eurocell said. “Currently the implications are not fully clear and may not pass into law before the UK leaves the EU. Our colleagues in Europe are working to achieve a derogation which will allow recycled product to be used and keep safe levels, which our process will be able to meet.

“Eurocell is also actively engaged in ensuring that the EU Parliament’s response is not applied to UK businesses. It would be very detrimental to the glazing, pipe and various secondary trade extrusions businesses which are working hard to reduce the carbon footprint of PVC by recycling products and ensuring long term sustainability.”

This move does not ban the recycling of post-consumer windows, nor does it prevent windows made from recycled material. The issue comes down to whether or not the concentration of lead can be determined.

Glass Times will cover this in more detail in the April issue.