Earlier this month a group of journalists witnessed the oldest PVC windows in Brussels being recycled into brand new window profiles, at an event organized by the country's PVC industry associations.
At the event, journalists and guests were invited to see PVC window from a private residence in Sint Pieters-Woluwe, a suburb of Brussels, removed, reground and then recycled by profile maker Deceuninck NV.
The 45-year-old windows were still operational but were removed because of they were made of only one pane, meaning some heat was leaking out. After being dismantled, the windows were taken to a recycling plant in Diskmuide to be shredded and sorted.
Deceuninck spokesman Koen Deneire said: "The old windows are shredded to pieces of about 5 cm. Then, wood, metal and glass are separated from the PVC, which is then ground to smaller grains or 'granulate' of about 0.5 cm. These grains are de-dusted and residual rubber is separated by means of ionization."
The quality of the resulting PVC granulate is just as good as virgin material in new profiles, he added.
During the final step, Deceuninck made second-generation window profiles using the recycled material in the core, covered by a skin of virgin PVC.
The event was organized by Federplast.be and the European PVC Window Profile and Related Building Products Association (EPPA), with support from VinylPlus.
According to VinylPlus, post-consumer PVC windows contributed substantially to PVC recycling rate in Europe. In 2012, the region recycled more than 2.5 million PVC windows, it says.