Sustainability is a mindset
Sustainability is a hot topic of conversation right now, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reporting a ‘code red’ alert for our planet in August, and the COP26 Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow. Chris Armes, design and development director at Liniar, discusses how sustainability is also gaining more coverage in our own industry, with discussions at the Glazing Summit and the trade press calling for fenestration companies to take action.
I’ve been looking at sustainability for a number of years now, and have concluded that if our industry is going to become more sustainable, we need a fundamental change of mindset.
Do we think recycled windows are currently seen as a valuable item? We know there’s a huge amount of investment required to change the tooling, plant and machinery necessary to manage and process different materials, but if consumers don’t see recycled PVCU as a valuable commodity, I can understand the industry’s reluctance to invest.
We can all help to change this mindset – both within the industry and in our everyday lives – by consciously bringing sustainability to the top of our own agenda and promoting it at every opportunity. PVCU is a valuable commodity if it’s treated and re-used correctly. The challenge is to get consumers to understand and accept this.
Liniar hasn’t needed an excuse or a reason to push forward with sustainable initiatives; it’s at the forefront of everything we do. But we understand that other companies might. The more the subject of sustainability comes to the top of everyone’s agenda, the more it will help all companies, including Liniar, to continue down the carbon zero path.
Liniar has been recycling PVCU since 1993 (28 years). In fact, its fencing and decking ranges were designed specifically to use recycled PVCU. Its piling and retention system is made from 100% recycled PVCU and is used by the Environment Agency and the National Trust as a sustainable, lightweight solution for many wildlife projects.
Over the years, we’ve designed many new products with sustainability in mind. We believe our scrap rates are the lowest in the industry at less than 3%, and every single bit of PVCU waste is recycled at our on-site plant, so we’ve never sent any production waste to landfill since the site opened in 2007.
We’ve always been focused on creating thermally efficient products to help save energy in all types of buildings, as reducing energy consumption and sustainability go hand in hand. The original Liniar window system launched in 2008 was the most technically advanced on the market.
Liniar also designed the UK’s first Passivhaus-accredited PVCU window system, EnergyPlus90. This system was way ahead of its time when we launched it in 2017, and it’s still gaining popularity across many sectors. We have exciting plans for it in 2022, although I can’t give too much away.
We have many recycled products across the Liniar range in addition to our Outdoor ranges. The patented Screw Retainer, which reduces the steel required in Liniar windows, has always been made from recycled PVC, as has our patented Thermal Dam – both helping with thermal efficiency. The 125mm sill is made from a recycled core with a virgin skin, and recycled PVCU reinforcement can be used to replace steel reinforcement in Liniar transoms up to 1.3m in length.
All of these innovations not only make the Liniar system easier to fabricate and handle, they’re manufactured from recycled PVCU in our own facilities, which helps to lower our carbon footprint.
I’m aware not everyone is lucky enough to have a purpose-built single site with a recycling facility or underground water chambers to recycle the billions of gallons of water required in an extrusion operation, but there are plenty of other opportunities to make positive changes.
I honestly believe that any company of any size can become more sustainable. It really is about having that mindset change and raising it to the top of the agenda internally. Liniar may be a large company compared to some, but this isn’t a sudden move for us; we’ve made lots of changes over the years that keep moving us closer towards net zero carbon, and we’d love the whole industry to do the same.
Whether it’s joining in with beach cleaning and recycling at home, raising the awareness that plastic can be a valuable commodity when collected and recycled in the right way, or asking your suppliers about their own sustainability practices, we can all do something.
In many cases, you could save money by making more sustainable choices, and if everyone does their bit, it will benefit us all in the long term.
Liniar holds ISO 14001 Environmental Management accreditation at its site in Derbyshire, and is currently 54% of its Climate Change Agreement target for 2021. Read more at www.liniar.co.uk/sustainability.