Retailers are missing out on increased revenues by not communicating the sustainability of their offer effectively
New studies show that retailers are missing out on increased revenues by not communicating the sustainability of their offer effectively.
Plastics hit the headlines for the wrong reasons at the start of this year with the publication of research, which shows that we’re slowly poisoning our oceans with single-use plastics. It’s not just the obvious flotsam – plastic bags, food packaging and water bottles – which are causing the problem but also micro-granules, including those found in washing powders.
It places sustainability at the top of the political and social agenda and that represents risk and opportunity for the PVC-U window industry.
The PVC-U sector has stepped up its commitment to ‘go green’. According to the latest figures from Recovinyl, the industry’s recycling scheme, more than 120,392 tonnes of waste PVC-U was recovered and recycled in 2016. That’s a 12% jump on the previous year and the equivalent of more than five million window frames.
It has, however, made less progress in communication this to the homeowner, something that at a time when plastic is associated in popular consciousness with the death of marine life, represents clear risk.
Research suggests that it’s also a missed opportunity. A consumer study by Unilever suggesting that a third of consumers are now buying from brands based on their social and environmental impact. This means that an estimated €966 billion opportunity exists for retailers who make their sustainability credentials clear.
“There is no reason to imagine that consumers aren’t applying the same principles to their purchasing of home improvement products”, says Ian Cocken, Director of Sales and Marketing, aluplast. “The potential to win business on strength your company and product ranges’ green credentials is huge.”
Challenges of surface and dimensional stability in recycled content
“How we now use this recycled material is a more fundamental question. Profile performance is dependent on the strict control of its formulation and by definition, recycled material is an unknown quantity”, continues Cocken.
“If you don’t know the ratios of the formulation you can’t possibly predict how it’s going to perform in extremes of temperature. The differentiation between metal salts or stabilisers can be really very significant and that’s something which is catching out some systems companies.”
The strategy adopted by the industry has for the most part to put this material into standalone second-grade products, for example reinforcements.
“The challenge is that where used in the substrate recyclate can have a significant impact on surface gloss and consistency of finish and because it’s ‘unknown’ and variable, it can be very difficult to control” Cocken argues.