Can double-glazed windows be recycled – all about recycling windows with double-glazing

Can double glazed windows be recycled – how to recycle a window with double glazing

Double glazed windows are energy-efficient, and environment-friendly, offer optimal thermal efficiency, bring down electricity bills, and offer superior insulation.

As a homeowner in Australia, you are aware of the top-notch environmental credentials of double glazed uPVC windows. But, you probably don’t know that double glazed windows can also be recycled.

When you are looking to install new windows, you are all excited. Most people just want to get rid of the old windows and these end up in a dumping yard. That’s not good for environmental sustainability.

By recycling double glazed windows and doors, you can do your bit for the environment and contribute further to the energy efficiency cycle!

Hello there! If you are a home-owner or commercial property owner in Australia looking to replace your old double glazed windows and wondering if these can be recycled, we are here to help.

In this post, we will give you a detailed overview of recycling double glazed uPVC windows. Many homeowners have the misconception that double glazed uPVC windows cannot be recycled. Or, they don’t have the right information and think it’s too complicated. That is why we are here to help. We will answer all your questions regarding the recycling of upvc windows with double glazing.

Double-glazed windows have a great shelf life. A high-quality uPVC window with double glazing has a shelf life of 18 years or more. But there can be many issues due to which your home windows might need replacement:

  • Leaking
  • Draughts
  • Chipped or cracked glass
  • Blown seals
  • Broken hinges, handles, and locks

New windows are often manufactured using state-of-the-art environment-friendly technologies. Many window manufacturers are now taking to manufacture top quality brand new double glazed windows using recyclable materials.

If you are a homeowner in Australia looking to get your windows replaced, we offer a wide range of services from aluminium window replacement to sliding door replacement. We provide our services to both home and commercial clients. Our highly experienced installers with formidable industry experience take care of your window replacement project from start to finish.

Why recycle double glazed windows and doors?

Old double glazed windows often end up in a landfill. That’s the harsh reality.

Unless you make a conscious decision to recycle the parts including upvc, plastic, and glass, you will be just contributing to the already menacing levels of plastic pollution in the world. Numerous studies show that toxic plastic and glass waste can severely contaminate the soil and water resources, also leading to hazardous illnesses upon exposure to such waste.

Therefore, the decision to recycle your old double glazed doors and windows is your small bit in contributing towards environmental sustainability.

You cannot take it for granted that the window replacement company hired by you will automatically do the recycling part for you. You have to specify during the consultation process that you would like them to help you with recycling your old double-glazed upvc windows. If it suits their expertise, they will give you a quote accordingly.

Remember that not all window replacement companies will recycle your old windows. Many will automatically dump these in a landfill.

You need to do your research and find out the best possible strategy to get your old double glazed windows recycled.

You will get to know more about the process of recycling a upvc window with double glazing in the next couple of sections.

Recycling double glazed windows

Recycling double glazed windows is a complex process. But it can be done smoothly, if you keep a few things in mind.

Firstly, you must understand the nature of the materials being disposed of. Your double-glazed windows typically consist of two recyclable materials – upvc and glass.

uPVC can be easily and conveniently recycled as long as you follow the correct procedures in disposing of it.

Recycling glass from your old windows can be a bit more complicated since different kinds of glass have different chemical makeup and this requires a different melting temperature. That is where professional expertise comes in. Your window glass can be recycled but you have to make sure you take it to the right recycling facility.

What is upvc in windows with double glazing?

uPVC stands for Unplasticized Polyvinyl Chloride. It’s a unique material in the world of products similar to plastic. It offers many advantages over plastics since it’s firmer, lighter, and stronger than various other options that are used in the manufacturing of double glazed doors and windows.

There is a big misconception regarding upvc that it’s not eco-friendly. On the contrary, upvc can be used over and over again to create various products so it’s incredibly eco-friendly.

The stabilizing agents in uPVC come mainly from calcium-sourced components and work actively to combat extreme heat and UV rays, thus making it the ideal material for manufacturing energy- efficient-double-glazed windows.

Recycling uPVC is also relatively cheaper as compared to recycling other materials which is why it’s the preferred material for manufacturing double glazed windows.

Double glazed window recycling process

You must separate various components of a double-glazed window before recycling. Remember that it’s the parts that will undergo recycling separately so you will have to separate the window frame and remove the glazing unit.

First, unscrew the hinges to remove the window from the frame.

Next, you ought to separate the glass from the casement using tools like a hammer and chisel.

Once you have executed these steps successfully and separated the plastic from the glass, you should approach your local council or the local recycling center. They will direct you to the appropriate recycling center depending on the nature of your double glazed window glass and other materials.

If you are doing this yourself, you must ensure that the materials are properly segregated so that each element can be recycled properly. It’s ideal to clean the materials afterward so that they look of good quality when they reach the recycling facility.

Breaking down your double glazed window parts for recycling can be complicated if you are not technical enough. If you are not confident of doing it yourself, you could seek the help of professional window recycling companies. These days many window replacement professionals also provide recycling services.

You could check with your window replacement company to see if they provide this kind of service, or else contact a window recycling company. Alternatively, you could also find installers who provide a recycling service.

Recycling uPVC window and door frames

A uPVC frame once collected for recycling is taken to a specialist plant.

Then, the frame goes through an elaborate process of tearing down. Firstly, a thorough inspection is conducted and the frames are purified to remove invasive materials like rubber. Once the purification process is complete, upvc is fit for recycling and it’s time to move on to the next stage.

Now, it’s time to shred the material into granules or pellets which are then utilized for creating new upvc products. However, it must be ensured that there are no alien components in the shredded upvc. The presence of alien components would compromise the integrity of the upvc products.

Recycled upvc can be moulded into many items including non-visible parts of new window frames, window boxes, plastic garden furniture, pipes and tubing, fencing, decking, guttering, and even brand new upvc windows.

Technology has become so advanced that your double glazed doors and windows no longer need to be thrown away. You can help promote green energy by taking your old door and window frames to a recycling facility.

Check our our article on How To Adjust Double-Glazed Windows – All About Adjusting UPVC Windows and Innovative Home Upgrades: Integrating Advanced Window Solutions With Modern Plumbing Techniques.

How to obtain recycled glass from your old double glazed windows

Recycling glass from a double glazed window can be a bit more complicated because different kinds of glass have different melting temperatures.

However, you can take your old window and door glass panes to your nearest recycling center. They should most probably be able to recycle it. If they don’t have the expertise to recycle that particular kind of glass, they will direct you to the concerned facility with the required expertise.

It’s worthwhile to spend some time researching recycling facilities in your local area before heading to a recycling center. Not all recycling centers will accept glass, so it’s a good idea to do some research before you head out.

However, glass can be recovered from your old double glazed windows and can be washed, crushed, melted down, and used to make new panes.

However, it’s important to know that the nature of window glass is different from other kinds of glass. Window glass has to be treated using a specific combination of chemicals and heat. It’s more challenging to disintegrate and has a relatively higher melting point compared to other kinds of glass.

Double glazed window glass cannot be mixed with general glass recycling. It can be either ground in a powder which can be used as a bulking agent in concrete and cement, or it can be used to make new windows.

Recycling window glass requires specialized infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology. Australia has many glass recycling specialists. If you are based in Melbourne or nearby areas, it’s best to do online research and contact the best glass recycling company in your local area.

Recycling your old windows yourself

If you are a creative individual who loves to have a go at new DIY projects, you could repurpose your old double glazed windows yourself rather than getting the individual parts recycled.

It’s an economical way to recycle your old windows and refashion them into aesthetic products.

You can refashion your old double glazed windows into:

  • Photo frames – You can refashion your old window into a brand-new photo frame. It would make a great frame for a gorgeous photo collage! So get your creative juices flowing and give your old windows an artsy makeover.
  • Garden Feature – Another idea for recycling your old double glazed windows is to use them to create a garden feature. You could refashion these to replace garden fencing or use these to divide different zones.
  • Mirror – Old double glazed windows can be refashioned into gorgeous mirrors by art and craft enthusiasts.
  • Cabinet doors – You could even create a bespoke cabinet using your old windows with double glazing.
  • You can also create a sitting bench or a flower rack from your old double glazed windows.
  • Your old window can also be refashioned into a unique artwork by adding painting or fabric to the frame.

There are hundreds of exciting DIY ideas for recycling old double glazed doors and windows.

Just Google search “how to recycle double glazed windows” and you can read about many interesting DIY ideas for refashioning your old windows and doors.

Recycling your old double glazed windows and doors yourself into unique and useful objects is a great alternative to getting the individual parts recycled.

It’s ideal for those house owners who don’t have sufficient budget to pursue professional recycling of individual parts. Also, if your local area doesn’t have enough facilities for window glass recycling or upvc recycling, it’s best to create something new out of these yourself rather than dumping those in a landfill.

Environmental benefits of recycled window frames and glass

Conservation of Environment

By choosing to get your double glazed doors and windows recycled, you make a conscious decision to do your bit to conserve the environment.

There are numerous environmental benefits of recycling. You help conserve natural resources by paving the way for the discarded parts of old doors and windows to be used again and again to create new products.

Recycled upvc and glass from old double glaze can be used to create new double glazed doors and windows, thus saving the environment from the onslaught of depleting finite resources.

Endless extraction of raw materials such as minerals, metals, and timber inflicts massive damage on natural ecosystems. That’s why you are helping create an economy of sustainable window production by getting your old double glazed windows recycled.

Energy conservation

By recycling your old double-glazed windows, you help conserve energy. Energy is not an infinite resource, and thus, all of us on this planet need to do our bit in conserving the same.

Material from recycled doors and windows is used in the manufacturing process. Most of the recycled material is incorporated into the making of new double glazed windows and doors. Creating new products from recycled items requires way less energy than manufacturing new products using raw materials.

Thus, the production chains get more efficient, while drastically reducing the burden on the environment. This lowers production costs and helps conserve environmental resources.

Reduced Land Pollution

By dumping your old double glazed doors and windows in a landfill, you contribute further to the alarming levels of land pollution and soil contamination.

Toxic chemicals from this waste can enter our water resources and even our food chain through soil contamination. It’s incredibly hazardous to dump old windows and doors in landfills. Therefore, by choosing to recycle your double glazed windows, you play a pivotal role in helping tackle land pollution.

Recycling these materials also slows down the rate at which landfills reach their optimal capacity. Furthermore, recycling also offers valuable opportunities for creating energy out of waste such as biogas, biofuels, and heat energy.

Lowers Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The manufacturing of new products using raw materials from scratch generates a substantial amount of greenhouse gas emissions through transportation, mining, and refining processes. The recycling of your old double glazed windows and doors drastically cut down the use of raw materials in the manufacture of many new products, thus cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions.

Promotes Circular Economy

By recycling parts of your old double glazed doors and windows instead of discarding them, you help promote a circular economy.

A circular economy is one in which resources are constantly reused and thus circulated back into the economy instead of getting permanently depleted. Thus, in a circular economy, many products can be recycled again and again, significantly reducing the loss of energy at every step of the manufacturing chain.

This leads to the development of innovative processes and products that are more sustainable. By embracing a circular economy, we help reduce environmental damage and waste generation, thus paving the way for sustainable energy consumption in the long term.

Recycled Glass benefits

Recycling double glazed window glass has numerous benefits.

It’s undoubtedly a bit of a complicated process but totally worth the effort.

Here are a few benefits of recycling window glass:

  1. According to various estimates, glass produced from recycled glass brings down air pollution by as much as 20 percent and water pollution by 50 percent.
  2. Compared to manufacturing glass using raw materials for the first time, it’s much more energy-efficient to recycle old glass. One can thus save a lot on the energy required to melt the glass.
  3. Glass waste is toxic and hazardous; by recycling your double glazed doors and windows, you help significantly reduce glass waste in landfills.
  4. Using recycled glass in construction aids the conservation of natural resources like limestone, sand, and soda ash.

Use of recycled materials to produce new double glazed windows

Recycled parts of new double glazed windows can also be used to manufacture brand-new windows and doors with double glazing.

Although this practice is not so common yet, some manufacturers have started producing new double glazed windows using recycled parts. It certainly holds a lot of promise for the future because by cutting down on the requirements of sourcing original raw materials for double glazed window production, one can significantly cut down production costs and also follow a more environmentally conscious and sustainable business model.

Now, let’s understand how different kinds of materials recycled from your old double glazed windows can be used to produce new doors and windows:

Recycled Glass

It’s a core component in the manufacturing of new double glazed glass units.

The process of producing new window glass from recycled one is a complex one that involves melting down waste glass. This waste glass lot can include different kinds of discarded glass including old double glazed window glass and glass bottles. New glass sheets are produced from this lot through the melting process.

According to various estimates, as much as 30 percent of the composition of new glass products can come from recycled materials.

By using recycled glass to produce new glass for double glazed windows, one can also bring down energy consumption during the process of production. It requires way less energy to melt down and reformulate waste glass than to create new glass sheets using raw materials from scratch.

Recycled Steel and Aluminium Frames

Aluminium and steel frames of double glazed windows can also be made using recycled materials.

Both steel and aluminium have high rates of recycling and can be thus reused without loss of quality or strength.

It is estimated that by using recycled aluminium for producing double glazed window frames, you can cut down the energy expenditure by almost 95 percent compared to using freshly sourced aluminum.

Similarly, it is estimated that by manufacturing new double-glazed window frames from recycled steel, one can save up to 60 percent of energy consumed during the production process. Thus, the process of producing new double glazed window frames using recycled materials certainly seems like a game changer, even though it’s a relatively new phenomenon in the window production industry.


Recycling UPVC and composite frames

The recycled uPVC frames of your old windows can also be used to create brand-new frames for double glazed windows.

uPVC has been widely used in the construction industry to make window and door frames and for a plethora of other applications including pipework. The unique characteristic of upvc is that it can be molded to fit any desired shape, thus making it highly flexible and versatile for a diverse set of applications in the construction industry.

uPVC can be recycled multiple times without undergoing a significant reduction in quality. Once it’s been recycled and processed, upvc can be put back into the production line and used to make frames for new double glazed windows. This makes uPVC the ideal material for recycling to produce new double glazed doors and windows.

The only thing to be careful about while recycling upvc is the presence of contaminated materials. The presence of these materials can affect the quality of recycled upvc. However, this issue can be addressed by handling discarded upvc carefully and sorting ints constituents into separate waste streams.

Composite frames, consisting of a mixture of materials such as plastic and wood, can also incorporate recycled content, thus offering a  green alternative to conventional double glazed window frame materials.

How do recycled materials impact the properties of new double glazed windows?

It’s an obvious question that will pop up in the mind of any prospective buyer. Will double glazed doors and windows made of recycled components be less thermal efficient compared to the ones made out of freshly spruced raw materials?

Here are a few points to keep in mind about new double glazed windows made out of recycled materials:

Thermal performance

The use of recycled materials does not bring down the thermal performance of newly manufactured double glazed windows and doors.

According to experts, the insulating properties of energy-efficient frame materials such as recycled uPVC, steel, or aluminum, and recycled glass are the same as those of their non-recycled counterparts.

Thus, consumers can be assured that double glazed windows made of recycled uPVC and glass will provide great insulation and significantly reduce energy consumption, thus cutting down your electricity bills by an impressive percentage.

Durability and Maintenance

Double glazed windows made of recycled components have an edge over those made of their non-recycled counterparts when it comes to maintenance and durability.

Windows and doors incorporating recycled content can withstand a great deal of wear and tear and are more robust compared to those manufactured using their non-recycled counterparts.

Moreover, the materials used for manufacturing are low-cost, thus significantly cutting down on the financial investments house owners will have to make for the maintenance of these windows.

By opting for double glazed doors and windows made of recycled content, house owners can avail the benefits of a superior quality, eco-friendly product that requires minimal maintenance.


Challenges to the adoption of recycled materials in double-glazed windows

The use of recycled materials to produce new double glazed windows is a new trend, and therefore, there are many hurdles to be overcome before this can be adopted by the window and door manufacturing industry on a wider scale:

  1. Concerns regarding performance and quality – The use of recycled materials in double glazed windows may raise significant quality concerns. This is specifically valid in the use of recycled glass. Although recycled materials, as explained above, do not bring down the thermal performance of double glazed windows. However, since there are not enough case studies in the market yet, customers are not convinced. There needs to be more research in this regard for consumers to be less apprehensive about the quality and performance of double glazed windows made using recycled content.
  1. Lack of a regulatory framework – Since the manufacture of double glazed windows and doors from recycled materials is a new phenomenon, there is a lack of clear-cut government and industry guidelines regarding the same. In most countries, guidelines and regulatory frameworks regarding the manufacturing process are either confusing or non-existent, making it difficult for manufacturers to take initiatives in this regard.
  1. Supply chain and logistical issues – The double glazed window recycling infrastructure is not that widespread yet. Therefore, the availability of high-quality recycled materials suitable for the production of new windows might be limited. Manufacturers might be constrained by the lack of adequate window recycling facilities in their local areas, thus discouraging production given logistical difficulties in sourcing recycled material from far-off locations. These limitations can restrict manufacturers from using raw materials for producing new double glazed windows and doors rather than going through the hassle of finding recycled content.
  1. Market perception and consumer acceptance – The availability of a prospective market is a must for manufacturers. Companies will be willing to spend on laying down the infrastructure for producing double glazed windows from recycled material, only if people want to buy such windows. The market perception regarding windows and doors made of recycled content is not that positive yet. Consumers are still reluctant to accept such products; they doubt the quality and efficiency of double glazed windows manufactured from recycled products. Thus, the focus should be first on generating public awareness regarding the benefits of uPVC and window glass recycling. Once there is awareness, manufacturers can slowly find a market for these eco-friendly windows and doors.
  1. Cost factor – Although recycling preserves the environment and reduces production costs in the long term, recycling itself can sometimes be expensive, thus increasing the production cost for manufacturers instead of bringing them down. This consideration also keeps a lot of manufacturers away from producing double glazed windows from recycled materials; they are apprehensive about the returns.

Bottom Line

Getting your old double glazed windows recycled is a conscious choice you can make to save the environment.

After all, the raw materials used in the production of double glazed windows are not infinite. These are finite sources that will get depleted one day if we go on pushing the environment a bit too much.

You can dismantle your double glazed window components yourself, and take the materials to your nearest recycling center. Alternatively, you can also avail of the services of a company that specializes in window glass and uPVC recycling. You can also refashion your old double-glazed windows to make DIY objects of aesthetic value and utility.

Whatever method you choose, the decision to not let your used windows become a part of an already soaring landfill is going to go a long way towards conserving the environment.

Most importantly, while getting old windows replaced, you must choose seasoned window replacement professionals who know their job well and take charge of the whole process from start to finish.

We offer a wide range of window and door replacement services in Melbourne from aluminum window replacement to sliding door replacement. We service both commercial and home clients.

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