Saving The Planet Is Good For Business
14th July 2018
Barnsley based Euroglaze was one of the first trade fabricators to start manufacturing in Rehau’s new co-extruded TOTAL70c profile, featuring virgin material around a recycled core, and is now using it in an increasing number of its chamfered frames. Windows Active talked to Managing Director Martin Nettleton about whether he thinks it represents a competitive advantage for him and for his customers.
How important do you think it is to installers that the PVC-U windows they buy are made from recycled profile?
From the feedback we’ve had so far, I think they probably fall into two camps. There are those who don’t really care about recycling and who are happy to buy the profile because it’s Rehau quality and comes with all the security of that and all the necessary product guarantees, and then there is a larger and certainly faster growing group who want to be able to reassure their retail customers that they are making an environmentally sustainable purchase.
And, how important is it to consumers? (Do you think they would ever be willing to pay more?)
The awareness of the need to eliminate single use plastics from our lives has been growing dramatically over recent years, and not just as a result of Blue Planet 2. You only need to look at the shift in attitudes towards the plastic carrier bag to see how quickly public opinion shifted from resentment at the initial imposition of a surcharge through to acceptance and widespread use of ‘bags for life’. While there isn’t the same pressure on PVC-U windows at the moment as there is on other types of plastic, I think that could easily change very quickly, and I’m happy to be in a position where we’re fully prepared for that.
Whether consumers would ever be willing to pay more though is a difficult question – when it comes to the environment, public opinion has proved notoriously difficult to predict. As I understand it, the recycling process does make the extrusion of the profile marginally more expensive currently but as these processes start to benefit from economies of scale, then this cost is likely to fall, so it should be perfectly possible to do your bit for sustainability without needing to charge a premium anyway.
Do you think you will win new business as a result of your switch?
Yes I do - the market is clearly demanding a recycled solution now and we’ve been quick off the mark to get on board with that. It’s a win win really because I think our trade customers will be able to win business on the back of it too.
Has the switch to the co-extruded Rehau profile made any difference to your manufacturing?
No, the product has all the same performance characteristics as its less environmentally sound predecessor which had just 10% recycled material in it. It passes through all our machinery with no problems at all.
Do you think there is room in the market yet for a profile which is 100% recycled?
Probably not yet. I’m sure it is scientifically possible but, unless a 100% recycled profile could perform to exactly the same standard as current products and at more or less the same cost, then I don’t think it would be viable, at least not in the short term.
How does Rehau’s move fit with Euroglaze’s environmental strategy?
It’s a very welcome addition of course. We’ve been taking baby steps at Euroglaze towards a more coherent environmental strategy for some time, through things like using more efficient machinery and switching to LED lighting throughout the production facility. It would be fair to say though that both of these steps were at least as significant in terms of cost reduction, and I certainly don’t see why there should be any disconnect between behaving more sustainably and reducing cost.
Another example of that is our current quest to eliminate all the unnecessary paper and printing from the business and, with the advent of our ultra-reliable delivery system, customers can now proceed all the way from placing an order through to getting their invoice without having to use, file or destroy a single piece of paper. We’re even using an electric car now for all our everyday mileage and, while that has no particular benefit to our customers, it does illustrate perfectly how open minded and forward thinking we’ve become when it comes to the environment.
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