Vinyl Council of Australia members have joined forces to provide more information on the benefits, uses, suitability and environmental performance of unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (uPVC) windows to Australian builders and homeowners.

Forming the uPVC Windows Alliance Foundation, alliance members including Australian Vinyls Corporation, Deceuninck, Koemmerling-Profine, Plustec and Rehau have launched an online communication platform which seeks to help local builders and homeowners make informed decisions about the type of window to use.

This includes information about uPVC window frames and their various attributes, including energy and thermal performance, resistance to rotting and salt erosion, and acoustic insulation.

The recyclability of uPVC is also highlighted, with the website stating that uPVC can be recycled as often as 10 times:

“Although very little end of life uPVC windows are presently available for recycling in Australia, Australian industry programs are committed to keeping uPVC out of landfills, putting it back into new products.”

A good example of such initiatives is Tasmanian company Envorinex’s uPVC window recycling program, which it is hoping to expand.

Since 2011, Environex has been supplying the Oakleigh Centre for Intellectually Disabled Citizens in Melbourne with a granulator to manage the recycling of the uPVC waste collected. The Oakleigh Centre inspects the material to the Quality Assurance standard required, granulates and packs it into new bulker bags.

These bulker bags are then shipped to Environex in Tasmania to be manufactured into 100 per cent recycled commercial products. To date, the recycling program has seen over 200 tonnes of uPVC waste diverted from the landfill and made into commercially viable recycled products.

Envorinex addresses the issue of noise abatement in urban living environments with a new range of fencing profiles made from 100% recyclable uPVC

According to the Vinyl Council, most of the imported profiles used to make uPVC windows in Australia already contain post-consumer window materials, demonstrating the feasibility of cyclic management of the product’s materials.

Despite these benefits, uPVC windows account for less than five per cent of the Australian window market. However, there is a growing interest from builders, homeowners and architects who are looking for energy efficient, durable and low maintenance alternatives to aluminium and timber.

In addition to the online platform, the uPVC Windows Alliance is currently developing an Industry Code of Practice (ICP), which will define the performance requirements for extruded uPVC profiles to be used in Australian windows and doors. This includes specific composition, weathering resistance, colour and strength requirements.

The ICP will be adopted by suppliers of profiles to local fabricators, and will give confidence to consumers in the durability of uPVC profiles under Australian climatic conditions. uPVC window units themselves must also be certified to the Australian Window Association window certification program.

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